Celtic know Leo Hjelde has a 'massive future'; he must have pathway to first-team next season

By Sean Clifford

April 12, 2021

Currently at Ross County on loan from Celtic [Transfermarkt], talented youngster Leo Hjelde has gained valuable experience this season. Undoubtedly, the Celts are more than likely to lose a raft of senior players ahead of rebuilding for 2021/22.

Conceivably, this will present openings to those who remain at the club to establish themselves as first-team regulars moving forward. Celtic could do a lot worse than to grant Hjelde a chance to make the grade next campaign.

His versatility makes him an attractive proposition for any new manager

Competent in central-defence or at left-back, the Norwegian could help to supplement depth in either of these positions. Kristoffer Ajer is widely expected to leave Celtic this summer [Daily Record], whilst Diego Laxalt is scheduled to return to parent club AC Milan come June [Transfermarkt].

Joining the Staggies in January [BBC Sport], the 17-year-old has made an immediate impact. Making eight Scottish Premiership appearances [Transfermarkt], Hjelde registered his first senior goal in a crucial 3-2 win over Kilmarnock last month [Sky Sports].

 

Additionally, he has illustrated his defensive prowess, impressively averaging 3.3 clearances per 90 minutes in 2020/21 [WhoScored].

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                                    Hjelde has a ‘massive future’ according to his current manager

Managed by ex-Celt John Hughes, the 56-year-old has previously lavished praise on the teen when speaking to the official Ross County media channel; stating: “He’s got a massive future in front of him, massive future. He’s really highly regarded at Celtic, and he’s a player that I’ve seen half a dozen times when I go through and watch Celtic’s under-23s.”

Ross County manager John Hughes / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Hjelde has received approving comments from someone who used to be one of the most feared defenders in the country. Taking advice from Hughes can only be beneficial for the young prodigy in a crucial stage of his footballing progress.

As a Celtic fan, Yogi understands the expectation needed to perform for the Hoops. Presently in a relegation scrap, Hjelde is learning how to play in pressurized situations which will accelerate his development considerably.

Excitingly for Celts supporters, Hjelde genuinely looks like someone who could be oven-ready for high-level exposure. As a left-footed central-defender he is also something of a rarity in modern football. Curiously, Celtic may need to offer him squad assurances sooner rather than later, as Southampton are reportedly interested in his services [The Scottish Sun].


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