Celtic are set to lose Jeremie Frimpong. Unfortunately, our third-most used player in 20-21 is on his way to either Bayer Leverkusen or Fiorentina, per latest reports.
With Hatem Abd Elhamed barely featuring this season, and Anthony Ralston barely getting a look-in under Rodgers or Lennon, a replacement is needed. Elhamed has been strongly linked to a move back to Israel, and may move before the January window closes.
While Kristoffer Ajer is capable of filling in at right back, he’s undoubtedly our star centre-back this season. Keeping him at RB would be a bit like forming a band with Prince, and making him play bass.
So, here are 3 potential Celtic replacements for Jeremie Frimpong. New Brexit rules have been taken into consideration, but ultimately I’m not the Home Office. What I do know is that these are three options that would represent at least temporary cover at full-back for Neil Lennon’s Celtic side.
I’ll get the inevitable one out of the way first.
Stephen O’Donnell, Motherwell
I told you it was inevitable.
Look: Stephen O’Donnell is a Scotland international. He’s also a proven quantity in the league, having made 172 appearances for Partick Thistle, Kilmarnock and Motherwell in the top-flight.
A versatile defender with 16 caps, O’Donnell can play anywhere across the defence, on the right flank and in central midfield. He’s also a former Celtic youth team player, having spent 2 years in the U20s.
The Aberdeen-born right-back isn’t necessarily the most exciting option. At 28, though, he brings vast experience and international pedigree to a position of weakness for Celtic.
He’s also available cheaply, and is yet to sign a new contract at Motherwell. We could do much, much worse.
Felix Agu, Werder Bremen
Felix Agu is a hotly-tipped youngster who has made 6 appearances in the Bundesliga. With German and Nigerian citizenship, he would presumably pass any work permit requirements.
In just 6 matches, Agu has scored and assisted a goal, while making 1.3 tackles and 0.7 dribbles per match [WhoScored?]. At 21, he might be disappointed to have only made a handful of starts and opportunities from the bench. At Celtic, the opportunity to challenge for silverware and compete in Europe could be a real lure for the twice-capped German U-21 international.
While mainly a right-back, Agu – like O’Donnell – offers versatility. He can play on either side, or further up as an attacking threat.
With youth on his side and good end-product, Agu could be a steal. He’s valued at £1.62m by Transfermarkt, but if he’s more productive in the latter half of the season, expect that number to rise.
Marcus Holmgren Pedersen, Molde
This one might be a bit trickier, work permit-wise. Still Pedersen is a Norway youth international and at 20, has already shown his qualities with limited minutes.
Pedersen has been ever-present for Molde, making 27 appearances in all competitions. That includes the Europa League, where the Norway youngster has impressed. With his playing time, he’s been vastly productive. Pedersen has managed 3 goals and one assist. His passing statistics are decent, with an average of 74% success [WhoScored].
Adept as a right-back or further up the park, Pedersen is just 20 years old and stands at 6′, giving Celtic another option from set-pieces.
Rated at £450k by Transfermarkt, Celtic would do well to dip into the Norwegian market once again. Stefan Johansen, Harald Brattbakk, Kristoffer Ajer and Moi Elyounoussi have all been successful at Parkhead. Perhaps Pedersen is next up.