Boli Bolingoli made his first 90-minute appearance of the season with Istanbul Basaksehir in a 2-0 win at Trabzonspor on Saturday.
Boli was shipped out to Turkey on a season-long loan deal at the start of the season after he broke Covid guidelines in Scotland. His error led to Celtic having two games postponed and created an initial backlog of fixtures.
As things stand, the Hoops have still to play one of those games against Aberdeen, and now sit four points behind Rangers having played a game less.
With so much fan anger over the situation, Boli – signed by Neil Lennon in the summer of 2019 – was always going to have to leave. But despite his departure back in September, it’s only now that he’s made his first 90-minute outing of the campaign.
Indeed, the Belgian started yesterday’s game in Trabzonspor and helped end their winless start to the season. It marked the fifth game Boli was available for, but his only other appearance this term for Istanbul came against Galatasaray in a 45-minute display several weeks ago.
But it appears that the Celtic man impressed in yesterday’s contest.
Tidy display from Bolingoli
Stat-tracking experts WhoScored ranked his performance as a 7.21 out of 10. He managed a total of four successful challenges as well as three interceptions defensively. However, clumsiness still appeared to be evident in his game as he fouled the opposition on four occasions. It’s no real surprise he clocked a yellow card then.
Boli’s passing at Parkhead had always proved to be a problem, with far too many free giveaways to the opposition. In yesterday’s performance, the Belgian managed 44 passes with a 77.3% mark for accuracy. Not bad going at all considering his troubles in the past, but there remains room for improvement.
It’s a big building block for the Celtic man considering his troubles in the early stages of the season. Then again, such is the anger his actions instilled in the Hoops support that he’ll have his fair share of fans who don’t wish him the best.
However, it’s important he managed to provide a good display against Trabzonspor at the weekend. Firstly, it takes his side out of the relegation zone, and secondly it puts him right into the manager’s plans ahead of their crucial Champions League campaign.
Boli could play against Leipzig, Manchester United, and PSG in the coming weeks. It’ll be interesting to see if he shows up well, and Neil Lennon will no doubt be keeping a keen eye on his progress as the season goes on.