Celtic need to bolster a number of positions in the summer.
This is not news. We need a total overhaul in truth, with plenty of players a short time away from running out their contracts. There have been a number of poor performers in a season that promised so much and offered up only frustration.
Still, as we’ve explored previously, there are countless excellent footballers becoming free agents in the summer of 2021. And this isn’t going cheap for the sake of saving money; there are players who would easily go for eight digits if they were under contract for longer.
Perhaps owing to a combination of Covid’s financial impacts and increased player power with shorter contracts, the free agent market for the summer looks very tasty indeed.
So, with Celtic lacking depth at right-wing, with only James Forrest an out-and-out choice for the role, here are three free options who could upgrade the position. Or, at least, they’d strengthen the area exponentially.
Chang-hoon Kwon, SC Freiburg
Do you like versatility? Goals from multiple positions on the pitch? International experience? Well, here’s your man. Chang-hoon Kwon is playing for Freiburg in the Bundesliga, has been in Europe since 2016, and has 23 caps for South Korea.
Primarily a right-sided attacker, Kwon can also play centrally, as a number 10, on the left and presumably in goals too, if he fancied it. Kwon’s adaptability makes him an interesting squad option at the very least. But at Celtic, he’d be competing for starts, no doubt.
The former Dijon man is approaching his peak. At 26, he’s a plug-and-play winger, rather than a long-term project. During his best season, with Dijon in 17-18, Kwon scored 11 and assisted thrice [Transfermarkt]. More recently, he’s made an impact with less opportunity, scoring once in a combined 95 minutes in the DFB Pokal.
Yes, he’s not a superstar by any means. But he’s a good player. With his combined top five league experience and international caps, securing a work permit shouldn’t be too much of a headache. Even if he’s not a guaranteed starter for the Bhoys, he’s at the very least an excellent squad option. That’s exactly what the free agent market is for.
Levan Shengelia, Konyaspor: a Celtic-bound Georgian international?
Sometimes, simple facts are all you need. So, here goes: in 50 games for Dinamo Tbilisi, Levan Shengelia scored 25 goals and made 14 assists. I like that, I think it’s good.
The Konyaspor man is, bafflingly, out of contract in the summer, despite boasting a decent season so far. With limited chances in the Turkish Super Lig, Shengelia has scored three and assisted twice [WhoScored?]. Out of favour in Konya, at a struggling club, you get the sense he could do far, far better.
An inside-forward who likes to cut inside, has a great range of passing and is incisive with his through balls, Shengelia is a really good option for Celtic this summer. Given that his career hasn’t involved the so-called “elite leagues” within Europe, it might be a bit harder to organise. That said, at 25, we reckon a deal could be done for the Georgian international.
As this highlights clip shows, he has no problem taking on players and finishing. Given Celtic’s history of appreciating fearless wide players, we think he’s good value.
Jacob Murphy, Newcastle United: next Sinclair for Celtic?
Remember when Scott Sinclair signed for Celtic? Now, there was an English winger who had been hyped during his young career, and garnered decent transfer fees. And there were a couple of good seasons, there – Swansea fans will attest to that.
Although he’s younger that Sinclair was, Jacob Murphy has shades of Scotty, even though he plays on the right. A tricky winger with experience of the top two tiers of English football, Murphy was signed for £12m by Rafa Benitez in 2017 [Sky Sports]. For whatever reason, it just hasn’t panned out how either club or player would’ve liked so far, and his contract runs out in the summer.
He’s at least getting games, though. The former Norwich man has made 13 appearances in the Premier League for Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United, but with one goal and one assist [Transfermarkt]. Hardly blow-away stats by any means, but Sinclair only scored two in 27 for Aston Villa before turning up at Paradise.
There’s clearly ability there. Whether it’s been the flux of loan moves, a bad system fit or whatever, there’s no doubt he’s talented. A former England youth international and seemingly worth over £10m at one point in time, Murphy could be an astute addition to the Celtic squad.
Rangers have been linked as recently as August, but he fits Celtic’s needs much more. Keep an eye out, as the Bhoys continue to look for bargains from England.