Davie Hay believes that Celtic need to prioritise strengthening both the goalkeeping and striking departments this summer.
The scale of the overhaul at Parkhead cannot be underestimated. As well as the playing squad, there will be huge changes in the dugout as Celtic look to reinvent themselves after a horrific campaign.
This all comes after Celtic were badly let down by too many players expected to shine this term. Indeed, Greek shot-stopper Vasilis Barkas was brought in to replace Fraser Forster. Inconsistency would plague him, whilst we also had major issues up front. Not one of our four centre-forwards have performed to the standards expected of them.
Hay has been discussing where Celtic need to improve next season. And unsurprisingly, he’s identified our two major weak spots.
As quoted by CQN, Hay said: “The importance of a dependable goalkeeper and reliable goalscorer was never more clearly illustrated than this season. Fraser Forster was not adequately replaced and that fact is borne out by the fact the team has had three different keepers since the big kick-off – Scott Bain, Vaslilis Barkas and Conor Hazard. The goalkeeping position is absolutely vital to any team and that cannot be stressed highly enough. You need a guy between the sticks you can trust.
“(On strikers) Neil Lennon would have expected so much more from those players.
“Odsonne hardly stirred in the first part of the season. There may have been reasons for that, but he was not as sharp as he was in the previous campaign. Was his head elsewhere? No doubt we will find out in time and, of course, he had a Covid scare when he was in Paris in October with the France Under-21 squad. The virus may have taken its toll.
“Ajeti hasn’t looked like a £5million hitman and Klimala had a real opportunity to show what he could do in the match against Steven Gerrard’s side at Parkhead in October when he got the nod to start with Edouard in quarantine. I believe these three players have a combined total of 16 goals among them in this fairly awful season. That’s not good enough, nowhere near it. I wish the new manager, whoever it may be, the very best of luck in sorting out his squad for the forthcoming term, but two obvious areas that need to be urgently addressed are right at the back and right up front.”
Celtic have plenty of priorities – but Davie Hay right to highlight goalkeeper and centre-forward areas
Hay isn’t wrong, we probably need reinforcements in both of those areas. It’s difficult to see all three Celtic goalkeepers staying beyond the summer. You have the poor performances of Barkas, the inconsistency of Scott Bain, and now there’s Conor Hazard effectively saying he’ll leave if he doesn’t play [Daily Record].
Something’s got to give in the goalkeeping department. Granted, there’s also no reason why Barkas can’t turn his form around under a new manager. It’s a fresh start for everyone, but it’s still a position that needs sorted out.
As for the striking department, we certainly need some clarity. Edouard looks set to depart as he enters the final year of his contract. Leigh Griffiths has been linked with a move away [Sunday Post], whilst Albian Ajeti and Patryk Klimala haven’t impressed this season. At the very least, we need another centre-forward to replace Eddy.
Celtic’s other priorities
However, we can’t forget about centre-back either. Kris Ajer is also into the final year of his contract whilst Shane Duffy’s loan deal is up. Chris Jullien, meanwhile, won’t be fit for the new season whilst Nir Bitton has been linked with a move back to Israel [Scottish Sun]. There could be major surgery needing done there.
And then there are the two wide positions. Outside of James Forrest, Celtic don’t have a natural right-winger. Ryan Christie has often been utilised there in Forrest’s absence, thus showing the need for a new face. Meanwhile, down the left side, Moi Elyounoussi looks set to head back to Southampton when his loan expires. That, again, only leaves us with one option in Mikey Johnston.
Therefore, there could be many positions that need tweaked this summer. That’s why the massive scale of this rebuild has been stressed so often.