According to the Scottish Sun, Airdrie winger Thomas Robert is set to train with Celtic.
Robert, son of famous Newcastle United man Laurent, has interested Celtic, Rangers, Dundee United and others [Glasgow Times]. The club’s director spoke of interest from other “huge” clubs, back in January. It’s been a quick, but unorthodox career trajectory for the young attacker.
Airdrie were tempted into a surprise move for the Frenchman after watching him best Billy Gilmour and Tariq Lamptey [Daily Record]. Formerly of the Montpellier Academy, Robert chose the unusual route of joining a Scottish third-tier side to progress his career.
Clearly a player unwilling to ride on his Dad’s coat-tails, the Parisian-born winger is now closing in on a move to Scotland’s biggest club. With James Forrest still struggling with injuries and Cameron Harper gone, Celtic are limited for match-ready right-sided wingers.
Karamoko Dembélé and Armstrong Okoflex have had sporadic opportunities, but when Lennon plays a midfield five with wingers, Ryan Christie has normally been preferred.
With League One and below cancelled for the foreseeable future, Robert is unable to show off his range of skills. Therefore, Celtic are quite right to make a move for the winger, to bring him to Lennoxtown and see what he can do. In 9 league matches, he’s managed 5 goal involvements [Transfermarkt].
The next step for the Frenchman is proving himself at Premiership level.
What does Celtic and their Thomas Robert approach mean for Lennon?
However, it’d be remiss of us to ask what’s going on at the club.
With the signing (or non-signing?) of Sheffield Wednesday youngster Liam Shaw, questions were asked. Chiefly, was Neil Lennon involved with recruitment? To what end? And, crucially, does that mean he’s staying?
Or, is it more likely that Nick Hammond, head of recruitment, is arranging these deals, regardless of who the manager is? It seems likely that Hammond will have been tasked with identifying young, promising players. That’s a constant for any top football team, no matter who’s in charge. Elite clubs add to their squads and academies constantly.
Certainly, Celtic have landed an exciting prospect in Thomas Robert, provided he impresses at Lennoxtown. Robert’s much-coveted winger with end product, positional versatility and, at 20, enormous potential.
Whether he gets his move is yet to be seen. Still, it’s encouraging to see signs of life at the club. We just don’t know who’ll be coaching these players, quite yet.