If Celtic are going to turn this season around, they might need to be clinical in January’s transfer window.
Clearly, it takes more than new arrivals to win a title. However, key positions are needing to be strengthened, as Celtic have haemorrhaged goals and struggled to create down the other end.
Our goalkeeping options, Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain, have been poor throughout 20-21.
Vasilis Barkas arrived in the summer (BBC) but has struggled to show any kind of authority. His shot-stopping abilities have gone missing, and he can’t seem to organise his defence. Scott Bain is acrobatic and capable of great saves, but has much of the same problems.
We’ve scoured the market to find some realistic targets for Nick Hammond and Neil Lennon this January.
Not to be confused with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Rafael is a goalkeeper with great experience who could be available cheaply. The Reading goalie has caught the eye with at Reading this season, after spells with Napoli, Sampdoria and Santos.
Valued at less than £1m by Transfermarkt, Rafael has kept 6 clean sheets in 15 games for the Berkshire club in the Championship. The thrice-capped Brazilian international has been a stand-out in a Reading team that is within reach of automatic promotion this season.
While Reading would be loathe to lose an asset half-way through the league campaign, a fee of around £3-5m would likely be enough for a keeper with experience in Serie A and for Brazil.
Leading a sturdy Reading defence, the “cool but rude” Rafael might just be the man to sturdy up Celtic’s leaky defence.
Ok, the sample size is small, but consider this: FC Lugano’s Noam Baumann has 3 clean sheets in 4 outings in the Swiss top flight so far this season.
Not enough? Fine, what about 10 clean sheets in 35 league games last season? 2 in 5 in the Europa League?
Baumann, 24, is a top-flight stopper who is practically an infant in Goalie terms. A product of the Luzern academy, the 6’2″ custodian has been a regular for Switzerland’s youth international teams.
His Lugano side finished 3rd in the Swiss league last season, and the youthful shot-stopper is valued at a mere £1.8m (Transfermarkt).
You could legitimately argue that Baumann is a risk given his age and comparative lack of experience. Nonetheless, at a very reasonable fee and with bundles of potential, the Swiss prospect could be a top-flight European goalie for the next decade at least.
Celtic have had mixed success in loaning players from Premier League clubs. Given history, you might think the option of loaning Aston Villa back-up Jed Steer is a gamble.
For every Fraser Forster, there’s a Charly Musonda. Every Mohammed Elyounoussi, a Tyler Blackett.
However, Jed Steer isn’t a goalkeeper who would come to Celtic for development. At 28, he should be playing regular football for a competitive side.
Able to represent both Scotland and England at international level, Steer is 6’2″ and known to distribute the ball well.
His only action this season has been in the Carabao Cup, conceding once in 2 fixtures. Aston Villa fans seem to like him (Under a Gaslit Lamp) and if he can avoid niggling injuries, he would be a good temporary signing for Celtic.
From his view, a half-season helping Celtic lift their 10th consecutive title would dramatically increase his stock. Aston Villa, for their part, would see their back-up goalkeeper’s value rise. Celtic would get a solid, agile keeper who can perform right away.
It seems win-win for all concerned.