With reports of Celtic being happy to wait until January to sign another centre-back, the club should think twice and make a move for Philadelphia Union’s Mark McKenzie.
Sky Sports journalist Anthony Joseph tweeted yesterday that, whilst the Hoops are in the market for another central defender, they would be “content” to wait four months. This comes after Shane Duffy signed for the club on loan from Brighton two weeks ago.
However, Celtic are also reportedly interested in McKenzie. Sky reported earlier this month that the club has asked to be kept informed of any developments regarding the player.
But this isn’t a player who’s just going to wait around for Celtic to come calling. In the past, McKenzie has spoken of his desire to move to Europe. Speaking in comments published in the Daily Record, he said: “It’s always a blessing to be able to draw interest from clubs in Europe. As a kid, you dream of playing at the top clubs in the world. Playing in top leagues and in Champions League and whatnot.”
Whilst there hasn’t been much in the way of reported suitors, you can bet clubs around Europe will be aware of his availability.
Philadelphia Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner has also stated in the past that he would be open to selling now that the MLS is Back tournament is over.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun last month, Tanner said: “We have had interest. There was a talk with Celtic, but I told them: We were not willing to talk before the tournament or during the tournament, but maybe then later on.”
McKenzie is showing real promise in the USA
Since then, McKenzie has been tearing it up at the back for the Union. He’s featured in every single game of the MLS campaign bar one since the end of the MLS is Back competition. He’s managed to keep three clean sheets in those five games, shipping only two goals in total (Transfermarkt).
McKenzie has also recently been capped by the USA at senior level. He made his debut for his country back in February, featuring for the final 28 minutes to see out a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
Yes, Celtic have plenty of options at the back. We effectively have six players for three centre-back positions. However, it would be extremely ideal to get the likes of Stephen Welsh some game-time out on loan, whilst Kristoffer Ajer’s future is a constant talking point.
If Celtic wait until January to do a deal for McKenzie, who is comfortable both in the air and in possession, they risk interest in him sky-rocketing. Philadelphia would love that too considering the player would be into the final 12 months of his deal. If they can ignite a bidding war then it’s a boost for the MLS outfit.
A deal for McKenzie would hardly break the bank either. In Philly’s last five years of trading for example, they haven’t sold any of their star players for as much as a seven-figure sum (Transfermarkt).
Forward planning is such a crucial part of ensuring we aren’t caught cold when players inevitably depart the club. Bringing in McKenzie now just seems right if it’s a viable option.
Sure, left-back and right-wing have to be the two priority positions. But a bit of extra investment to sign a talent as promising as McKenzie for a potentially nominal fee would be a shrewd investment from the club.
In other news, we talk about why Celtic’s left-wing problem is about to be solved after Neil Lennon’s comments yesterday.