Lille manager Christophe Galtier made the surprising decision to drop star-striker Jonathan David against Nice yesterday – just four days before Celtic’s visit.
Celtic are due to head over to France for Thursday night’s second Europa League group stage clash of the season. Both sides go into the game having made contrasting starts to their campaign, with Lille beating Sparta Prague 4-1 as Celtic slumped to defeat at home to Milan.
One of the Ligue 1 side’s main threats was supposed to be new signing David. The Canadian striker signed for the club back in August in a deal worth a reported £30million (The Guardian).
However, he’s so far proven to be a disappointment on the goal front. Galtier has played his big-money signing in each of their nine games this season, and he’s still to provide a single goal or assist.
In yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Nice, Galtier took the surprising decision to actually withdraw his star man from the starting line-up and instead put him on the bench for the first time this season.
David supposedly a simple victim of squad rotation
Interestingly, Galtier stated post-match that his club-record signing was simply on the bench due to a rotation system. Speaking as quoted by the Daily Record, the Lille boss said: “I have to manage everyone’s playing time because we have a lot of games just now. We are very much looking forward to playing Celtic on Thursday.”
Yet, it’s intriguing as to why Galtier believed that now was the right time to drop David. His team have played nine games so far this season, surely he would’ve been rested in previous matches if this is all about rotation.
In addition to that, Lille knew that anything other than a win and they would surrender top spot to PSG. Surely playing your big-money signing would’ve made sense in such a crucial game. Especially when you consider he could do with a goal on such an occasion.
Regardless, it looks more than likely that David will come back in for the visit of Neil Lennon’s Celtic this week. Considering he was brought on for the closing stages yesterday, that suggests he could be in line for a start on Thursday.
And that’s why Celtic should be even warier than they may have been. David’s struggles this season can act as extra motivation for him to turn it on in European competition. He’ll be more itching to impress than the average player would, especially after being given the fright of having been dropped.
So we’ll see what Thursday night brings, but even though Celtic are going through something of a confidence crisis, it looks like we’ll come up against a centre-forward experiencing exactly the same thing.