How to fit Mulumbu into the Celtic side

By David Walton

September 7, 2018

He was one of the big signings close to the deadline, and here we look at ways new-boy Youssouf Mulumbu can fit into Celtic’s team.

The former Kilmarnock man was a star last season. Putting in a host of dominant performances, he was a stand-out player throughout the Premiership last term.

The signing of him, however, still felt underwhelming to the support. With the thought of Moussa Dembele leaving plaguing Celtic fans’ minds, it was unfair on Mulumbu. The player is clearly delighted to join the club, and he’s probably yet to feel that love back from fans.

With many still angry with the board and Peter Lawwell, it’s been difficult to focus on the new-man. But what can Mulumbu bring to the side? More importantly, where can he fit in?

Youssouf Mulumbu was a dominant enforcer for Kilmarnock last season (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There’s only one place he does, and that’s as a holding midfielder.

The powerful enforcer isn’t a box-to-box type regardless of his goal against Celtic last season. He’s known primarily for bossing the midfield and breaking up opposition play.

Who drops out?

It’s a very useful tool to have for Celtic, but there’s one problem. Scott Brown does exactly the same thing.

Questions continue to get asked about how long Brown has at Celtic. But his playing days still don’t look anything like being over in the near-future. The soon-to-be Celtic legend has been at the club for a decade, and doesn’t look like slowing up anytime soon.

So, therefore, if Mulumbu is to come into the side, he’d surely have to take the place of Olivier Ntcham. Another problem is the fact that Ntcham is quite simply a class act.

The Frenchman bullied Rangers all around the Parkhead turf on Sunday. If there’s one player who’s a cut above on his day, it’s him. But it’s also important to remember that the former Manchester City man was bullied around by Mulumbu last season, particularly at Rugby Park.

Olivier Ntcham was bullied around against Mulumbu last year (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

The new signing has confirmed that he’s here to “help” the likes of Ntcham and Brown. That instantly screams out as a rotational system. This means that it my very well be the case that Mulumbu will play when Ntcham or Brown need a break. Therefore, post-European matches or mid-week fixtures could be his opportunity.

It’s a fantastic dilemma to have for Brendan Rodgers. Stuart Armstrong wasn’t particularly replaced in the summer, but Mulumbu could have more of an effect on things than the Scottish international ever did.

It’s an intriguing signing, and one Celtic fans surely can’t wait to see more of. Until then, however, the former West Brom and Killie star will just have to wait his turn.