Australia number two and former Man Utd coach Rene Meulensteen has admitted that he was surprised to see that Celtic didn’t make a summer mover for Martin Boyle.
Celtic were last linked with a potential bid for Boyle back in January when his contract only had 18 months left to run. At the time, the Scottish Sun reported that Hibs were looking for up to £3million for their star winger.
In the end, Celtic didn’t both making a move in January or indeed the summer window. The Hoops decided not to strengthen their right-wing options, with James Forrest and Jeremie Frimpong both available to Neil Lennon at the time.
But Meulensteen still thinks the Hoops missed a trick in not snapping up the Australia international when they could.
As quoted by the Daily Record, Meulensteen said: “I’m actually surprised that a club like Celtic or Rangers haven’t come in for him because he’s got so much to offer and is doing really well for Hibs right now.
“Martin’s great – he’s full of beans, hard-working, quick, agile and direct. He’s got something special about him, he’s not afraid to run at people and has a heart like a lion.
“Martin has had a few injury setbacks, but personality-wise he never stops smiling. He’s a good guy and a very good player.”
Stats would suggest otherwise
Boyle has his traits, of that there’s no doubt. When he wants to be, he can be an extremely creative outlet for Hibs as he proved in their recent meeting against Rangers when he bagged two assists.
But take a deeper look into Boyle’s numbers and you can see why Celtic wouldn’t want to part with several million for him. The Australian star has a total of five direct goal contributions in 14 Premiership appearances. You can clearly see why he didn’t manage a move to a bigger club in the summer (Transfermarkt).
He’s supposed to be Hibs’ most creative asset, yet he’s only bagged three assists all season with the other coming against St Mirren. There’s not a lot to like about those numbers, and Celtic have to compare them to what they already have.
Even against Celtic, the pacey attacker was pretty poor. He may have won the penalty early in the second half, but Diego Laxalt generally had him pocketed, and that’s now two games against the Hoops this season in which he’s flattered to deceive.
Stats don’t tell the full story of course, and Boyle could very well be a decent squad player at Parkhead and used as an option from the bench when we need fresh legs down the right flank. But even though we do need to strengthen in that position soon, you have to imagine we can attract better than the Hibs man.
He’s a decent player – let’s get that across. But there’s not some sort of overwhelming level of quality there that makes you wonder why he’s not at Celtic Park just now. Combine that with his injury history, his reported valuation, and the fact Hibs are notoriously difficult to deal with for us – it doesn’t add up.