Celtic could look to Arsenal youngster for defensive solidity

By Euan Davidson

December 16, 2020

Celtic have looked incredibly shaky at the back this season, particularly in Europe.

In the Europa League’s Group H, the Bhoys conceded a staggering 19 goals (UEFA). In the league, 14 goals have been conceded at the time of writing (BBC).

Celtic only conceded 19 in 30 games (SPFL) last season. The projections, then, are not good.

With the January transfer window approaching, it follows that Celtic will look to bolster defensive positions. Even with Shane Duffy coming back into some kind of form, we’re still short of first-team centre-backs.

Arsenal’s William Saliba might be the answer, then.


Saliba has found it hard at Arsenal / (Photo by Alan Walter – Arsenal FC/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Saliba in the cold at Arsenal

Signed from Saint-Etienne and subsequently loaned back for 19-20, 19-year-old Saliba was hotly tipped. Unfortunately for the French youngster, chances at the Emirates have been hard to come by.

Saliba didn’t make Mikel Arteta’s squad registration this season (Sky Sports), and has only found minutes in reserve games and the Papa John’s Trophy.

It’s an odd way to treat a £27m defender, but such is life in England’s top-tier these days.

According to Anthony Joseph for Sky Sports, Arsenal are preparing to offer Saliba on loan next month. While French clubs know his pedigree, a move to Celtic during a historic season might be good for him.


Celtic past v Celtic future? Saliba battles Dembélé / (Photo by JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images)

What would Saliba bring to Celtic?

At around 6’3″, Saliba would be another lanky defensive option next to Kristoffer Ajer and Christopher Jullien. Excellent at the ugly stuff and making defensive headers, Saliba averaged 2.9 clearances and 1.6 tackles for ASSE last season (WhoScored?).

An accomplished passer of the ball who reads the game well, Saliba played well in a poor St. Etienne team, who finished 17th in Ligue 1 last season (ESPN).

With Arsenal’s woes continuing and Arteta under pressure (BBC), it might seem odd that the Gunners are letting a defender go out on loan. However, Nick Hammond and Neil Lennon should be monitoring the situation closely, with 10IAR very much on the line.

With Kieran Tierney in his ear, Saliba could well be tempted to give Celtic a go, should the Bhoys come calling. Making history in Scotland would improve any player’s stock, and he’d be within easy reach of Arsenal’s scouts.

It’s a move that could make sense for all parties. If Celtic are looking to solidify their defensive options, there are far worse opportunities than taking William Saliba on loan.