Celtic vice-captain Callum McGregor has hit back at criticism of new goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas, and has labeled the new man “excellent”.

Barkas has come in from some ridiculously premature stick since arriving at Parkhead from AEK Athens this summer. Kris Commons stated in his Daily Mail column last month (31/08, The Verdict, Page 12) that he “wasn’t convinced by Barkas at all”. That came after our Champions League exit to Ferencvaros.

That was followed by Andy Walker telling the Sky Sports transfer window podcast: “In all honesty, I haven’t seen him make a big save yet.”

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Celtic goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas

Celtic goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

However, Celtic star McGregor was happy to big up the new man as he reflected on his start to life in Glasgow. And as we’ve come to expect from Callum, he moved to defend his fellow team-mate.

As quoted by the Daily Record, McGregor said: “Vasilis has been excellent since he came. It was probably a culture shock coming from Greece to a new club. But he’s done well and all the boys like him – he’s a nice guy with a good personality.

“He made a couple of big saves last week so that will help him gain more confidence. It’s tough to follow someone like Fraser but he has adapted well and has that stature about him too. The club have bought him as a big-money signing so everybody wants him to do well.

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“He looks comfortable with the ball and can find those passes through the middle of the press, helping start attacks. The experienced players help new boys settle in and there are a lot of different cultures in a changing room now.”

 

It feels like Barkas isn’t getting room to breathe

It just feels at the minute as if our new shot-stopper simply can’t let in a goal without being hounded about how much of a lesser player he is than Fraser Forster. Even when he has a good performance, it quickly gets dismissed after he concedes again.

Sure, the Greek international cost Celtic a reported £4.5m from Athens (Scottish Sun). That represents a sizable outlay for the Hoops, especially for a goalkeeper. But he’s also a human being at the end of the day and needs time to adapt to a new culture.

McGregor has shown in these comments that he will indeed be a future Celtic captain. He shows a real rigorous defence of his team-mate whilst also refusing to go over the top and insult the fans. We all know the new man has still to truly prove himself.

Vasilis Barkas makes a save for Greece

Vasilis Barkas makes a save for Greece (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP via Getty Images)

But the fact is he needs room to breathe. He’s still part of a Celtic side that has won their last five Premiership matches and are just a game in-hand away from going clear at the top of the Premiership.

He has three clean sheets in six Premiership games and one in two European matches. Make that four clean sheets out of eight games overall. That’s hardly a disaster from a player moving as far out of his comfort zone as is probably possible.

Let’s give our summer-signing some more time. He’ll be as disappointed as anyone at shipping two goals to Livingston on Saturday, but you can’t ignore the positives he’s shown either.

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