Celtic January work leaves them with a ridiculous right-back situation

By David Walton

February 9, 2021

Celtic produced a quite frankly shocking January window when it comes to the right-back position.

The Hoops managed to sign Jonjoe Kenny from Everton on a loan deal until the end of the season. That would be a decent bit of business in isolation, but not when you look at the full picture.

Kenny has looked nothing more than fine in his first two Celtic appearances. He’ll do a job here as a placeholder until the end of the season.

But he’s only here because Jeremie Frimpong was sold to Bayer Leverkusen for £11.5m just a week beforehand [Scottish Sun]. It’s nothing to do with strengthening in the position – all we were doing was covering our losses.

And yet we’ve even failed to do that. Hatem Elhamed is reportedly set to leave at some stage today [Scottish Sun]. That means that Celtic will have allowed two natural right-backs to leave permanently this winter. Whilst we only have one arriving at the club – temporarily too. There are no guarantees Kenny will be here for the long-term.

Now take a look at our right-back situation. You could say we’ve now failed to replace Frimpong as we’ve only managed to replace one of our departing players. And sorry, but replacing an £11.5m player with a loan signing who’d only played just over 300 minutes this season isn’t going to cut it [Transfermarkt].

Celtic board avoiding criticism for shocking January work on right-back position

The board’s lack of action or foresight has now left us well short. Please don’t tell me we have Anthony Ralston available. We’re talking about long-term options. Yes, Kris Ajer can play there if necessary, but we have to start building a centre-back partnership around him and Stephen Welsh between now and the end of the campaign.

What’s even more frustrating is that the board foresaw this. Lennon stated before Frimpong left that the club had known about it for weeks [Glasgow Times]. As for Elhamed, he was linked with being unsettled at Parkhead in the early stages of December [Scottish Sun].

Many will point to the fact we want a new manager in the summer. Therefore, that can be construed as a reason not to allow Lennon the chance to build for the long-term. Okay – point taken. But why then did we only sign one right-back on loan as opposed to two solid options for the short-term? Why haven’t we managed to at least cover our losses until the end of the season?

Jonjoe Kenny warming up before a Celtic match / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It makes little to no sense that at a time when we needed defensive reinforcements, Celtic have actually weakened themselves at the back.

God forbid if anything happens to Kenny. Ajer will have to be dragged back out to the right-back position and it’ll be hello Shane Duffy or Nir Bitton again.

Yet again, we’ve come out of a transfer window weaker than we were going into it.

In other news, an SPFL manager has provided Celtic and Neil Lennon with a strong defence.