Former Celtic target Mitchel Bakker features for PSG in Champions League semi
In September 2020, Celtic were after PSG left-back Mitchel Bakker.
Signed from Ajax in 2019, Bakker had made a whopping one league appearance for Les Parisiens in 19-20. With Boli Bolingoli’s indiscretion still a raw wound, Celtic had to act. Eventually, the club signed Diego Laxalt. Bakker, however, was the first-choice.
At the start of September last year, Bakker claimed he wanted to stay and make an impact for his club [Daily Record]. Even then, he’d already been profiled by Glasgow Live, and looked good value to broaden his CV at Celtic Park. In hindsight, it would’ve been a coup for the Bhoys.
Bakker has been a key component of PSG’s season. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are on the cusp of another Champions League final, and the Dutchman is playing left-back. Bakker has made 36 first-team appearances so far in 20-21, and he looks to have well and truly vindicated his decision to stay.
While his statistics won’t blow anyone away, it’s perhaps because (generally) he’s part of a defence for a team who dominate possession. To that end, he’s averaged 1.3 tackles and 0.6 clearances per 90 minutes [WhoScored?]. From an attacking perspective, he offers less than half a dribble per game, and 0.5 key passes. Greg Taylor runs with the ball 0.6 times a match, while making 1.3 key passes.
Of course, that’s a lot to do with systems, ball possession and the strength of opposition. Like it or not, it seems obvious that Bakker’s numbers would be more impressive in the Scottish Premiership. For Pochettino, he does enough to be a regular, and that’s the most important thing.
Can Celtic wonder “what if?” over PSG man Mitchel Bakker?
While it might’ve seemed like a good move for all parties at the time, PSG have got far more production from 20-year-old Bakker than they would’ve realistically expected.
At 6’1″, Bakker mixes physicality with speed, and was nominated for the 2020 Golden Boy Award [Football-Oranje]. His potential never really seemed in doubt. But his progression into massive matches will have surprised even the biggest fans of the Dutch full-back.
Instead, in the end, Celtic got Diego Laxalt.
A real sliding doors moment, if ever there was one.