3 attacking midfielders Celtic could look to in January transfer window

By Euan Davidson

October 30, 2021

Celtic need another playmaker in the January transfer window, and if you don’t believe me, ask Ange Postecoglou.

Yesterday, we looked at options from within the squad to step up in Tom Rogic’s temporary absence. However, it’s clear that the Greek-Aussie manager, who has made excellent recruitment decisions thus far, is keen for Celtic to make a move in the January transfer window.

That’s entirely fair enough. In terms of first-team quality, we’re lacking in ready-made number 10s. Ryan Christie’s departure has cost us short-term. The Scotland international’s headache of a contract situation eventually led to the inevitable departure many of us hoped wouldn’t happen.

Postecoglou has shown guile in the transfer market so far, picking from various markets to bolster his squad. It’s an almost entirely new-look Celtic compared to last season, but the January transfer window will still be important.

So, let’s take a look round the globe for 3 Celtic candidates. Some are far-flung, others are a little closer to home.

Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Marcos Junior, Yokohama F Marinos – will Celtic manager look to old club this January transfer window?

By now, you’ll be familiar with the speculation surrounding Yokohama F Marinos man Daizen Maeda. Celtic are reportedly “confident” of landing the lightning-quick attacker. No problems there.

However, there’s another player from Postecoglou’s old club who may prove beneficial to Celtic. At 28, Marcos Junior has blossomed into one of the J League’s foremost playmakers.

A former league top scorer in Japan, a Brazilian title winner and – of course – a J League champion with Postecoglou, the former Fluminese man was an excellent signing by the now-Bhoys manager. Celtic will undoubtedly be monitoring the J League this January transfer window, and Marcos Junior seems a safe bet.

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At 28, the Brazilian midfielder is approaching his prime years. He’s already been enormously productive for Yokohama F Marinos, scoring 36 goals and making 14 assists in just over 100 games [Transfermarkt].

Capable of playing virtually anywhere in midfield or attack, his versatility and eye for goal are both attractive. He made 5 assists in the J League [World Football] this season, and offers experience and still plenty of productive years left.

I’m genuinely sorry, Yokohama F Marinos supporters.

Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Jamie McGrath, St Mirren – of course, Celtic could look close to home in January transfer window

Irish internationals haven’t had the best time of it at Celtic lately, but a January transfer window capture of Jamie McGrath could turn the tide.

Speaking personally, I’m a big fan of the St Mirren midfielder. He has an excellent range of passing, isn’t shy of going for goal, and now has some international experience to his name.

McGrath, tipped by Jim Goodwin as a potential Celtic signing in the past, has just until this summer on his contract at St Mirren. That means offers in January will be inevitable, although he’s injured currently.

At 25, he’s boasting some excellent numbers this season. He makes 2.2 dribbles and 2.2 key passes per 90 [WhoScored?], and gets fouled nearly 3 times a game. With the delivery of David Turnbull, that would be a very useful attribute.

His passing accuracy could use work, but he has the pace and final product to be a threat. Scottish Premiership clubs are already well aware of that.

He might be seen as a cheap option, or an uninventive one. Also, Celtic haven’t really bought many players from within Scotland in recent windows.

However, McGrath is a quality option, if you ask me.

Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Ilan Kebbal, Stade Reims – the 23 year old that’s burst into life in Ligue 1

The French transfer market has been a worthy shopping trip for Celtic in windows past. Odsonne Edouard and Christopher Jullien, I’m looking at you specifically.

We know there’s plenty of underrated gems within French top flight, or even the second tier. But we’re going to Ligue 1, for Ilan Kebbal, an Algerian playmaker who has exploded into life this season.

Having spent last season at USL Dunkerque, Kebbal has found a home in Stade Reims’ first team and made a huge impact. In 11 outings, he’s contributed to 5 goals, with 4 assists putting him amongst the league leaders for chance creation.

According to FB Ref, Kebbal is making 5.32 shot-creating actions a game, putting him in the 97th percentile in European football. For reference, Lionel Messi makes 6.94 a game.

That’s impressive stuff. He also makes a considerable number of interceptions per 90, meaning he has value in both defence and attack. But on the ball is where he’s best, making plenty of progressive passes and carrying the ball forward.

At just 23, Kebbal is making real strides, and it won’t be long before clubs around Europe start taking a real interest. Will Celtic look to a happy hunting ground this January transfer window?

Read more: Celtic hero Chris Sutton praises recruitment but says tactical issues remain