Celtic loanee Conor Hazard looks set for big chance as Helsinki sell first-choice goalkeeper

By David Walton

January 24, 2022

Celtic loanee Conor Hazard looks like he’s set to be handed a big opportunity with his new loan club after they sold their number 1 goalkeeper today.

Hazard left Parkhead for Finland last week in a one-year loan agreement. The move came with Hazard currently sitting as the 4th-choice goalkeeper under Ange Postecoglou.

However, his move to Helsinki came as a slight surprise given their goalkeeping situation. Hugo Keto was number 1 whilst Jakob Tannander played back-up. There didn’t appear to be much sign that Keto was heading anywhere from the outside looking in.

Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

But today, Helsinki has announced that Keto has left for Norwegian outfit Sandefjord. He will head to his new club immediately, with the new Finnish league campaign not kicking off until April.

In the meantime, Hazard will now battle it out with Tannander for the number 1 spot. Helsinki have friendly and Finnish League Cup matches on their agenda before their new league campaign kicks off.

It remains to be seen who wins the battle between Hazard and Tannander moving forward. However, with Keto gone, it’s a spot that’s now up for grabs for either man.

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Conor Hazard isn’t in Helsinki to sit on the bench as Celtic contract winds down

This is a big move for Hazard. A move in which he’ll believe is the one that’s going to reinvigorate his young career once more. After all, let’s not pretend he was going anywhere by consistently being frozen out of matchday squads at Celtic Park.

However, playing second-fiddle to Keto wasn’t going to cut it either. Hazard is in Finland to be a number 1. He’s already had extensive experience of the Scottish Championship and even bagged a run of games for the Hoops last year. Not forgetting he’s also a full international with Northern Ireland.

As for Tannander, who he’ll be up against this season, his experience has mainly come in the 3rd tier of Swedish football. At 21, Hazard does appear to outgrow him in experience. So you would hope that manager Toni Koskela sees that and puts his faith in Hazard for the upcoming Finnish football year.

Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

His Celtic contract is also up in the summer of 2023. When he’s due to arrive back in Scotland, he’ll only have 6 months remaining on his contract. So this is a colossal year for him in terms of the direction his career goes under moving forward.

If he loses out in this battle with Tannander, he’ll be in exactly the same position he was in this year upon his return. But Hazard has the quality and experience to take this opportunity with both hands and grow his stock ahead of his return.

Even if his long-term future still lies away from Celtic Park, words can’t emphasise the importance of the next 12 months for Conor enough. The departure of Keto certainly opens the door for him.

In other news, Ismaila Soro’s Celtic squad place is clear and January exit is now a priority