Celtic youngster Afolabi endures rough start at Ayr United

By Euan Davidson

September 7, 2021

Celtic youngster Jonathan Afolabi and his rough start to life at Ayr United has worsened, after a rash red card.

The Ireland and Celtic player was sent off in tonight’s game against Raith Rovers. A “rash challenge” resulted in a straight red for the former Southampton Academy player.

The sending off follows a rather inauspicious start to life at Ayr United. Thus far, Afolabi has failed to hit the net for the Championship side. That follows a 3 goal return for Dundee in 20-21 [Transfermarkt].

Clearly frustrated by his slow progress on loan, Afolabi is making uncharacteristically bad challenges, and it won’t help his cause at all.

It’s strange for a player with such obvious potential. Neil Lennon described him as being “on the cusp” of the first-team in 2019 [Sun]. When he was signed from Southampton, he had already been a regular for Ireland at U19 level [Transfermarkt].

Jonathan Afolabi looked “on the cusp” at Celtic, but times have been tough

From the talk of being on the verge of youth team action, it’s not gone particularly well for Afolabi thus far.

“Celtic looks like the perfect move for Jota” | Portuguese football expert Aaron Barton

“Celtic looks like the perfect move for Jota” | Portuguese football expert Aaron Barton
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

That’s odd. At Premier League 2 level, he was excellent. A regular scorer with plenty of assists to his name, Afolabi looked a steal. Especially from an Academy that produced Gareth Bale, James Ward-Prowse, Theo Walcott and plenty more.

Whether something hasn’t clicked at training, or he’s become disillusioned with loan deals, it’s hard to know. His start to life in Scotland was decent enough, with two goals and an assist out on loan with Dunfermline Athletic.

Photo by Roddy Scott/SNS Group via Getty Images

Nobody’s writing him off yet – far from it. However, if Afolabi is going to get the opportunities he wants at Celtic, improvement is needed, and quickly. We’ve seen players come back from loan spells and thrive at the club, notably captain Callum McGregor, and now Anthony Ralston, who endured some difficult times away from the club.

Ryan Christie and Kristoffer Ajer also thrived on loan. The precedent is there for Afolabi.

But if he’s going to reach the summit at Celtic, his performances need to improve.

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