Goodbye Hatem Elhamed, We Hardly Knew Ye
Celtic are set to wish Hatem Elhamed salutations.
Hapeol Be’er Sheva are set to host Elhamed’s return to Israel, where the 10-cap international will be reunited with his wife and young child. All things considered, it’s a nice story amongst the Covid gloom.
When he leaves Celtic, Hatem Elhamed will have done so after 30 first-team appearances. Over a season and a half, he won a treble with the Bhoys, which is decent value for the Israeli defender.
A versatile player, the defender was advertised to Celtic supporters as a centre-half-turned-right-back who could also play in midfield and further up the right flank. The Israeli’s versatility was never overly tested; appearances were largely as a right back or in the middle.
There was great hope, from Lennon’s point of view, that Elhamed would have a perfect role. On the right of a three, the right-sided defender would surely prosper. For a while, he did really well for Celtic. The consensus amongst supporters is that there’s no ill will towards the player; he put in a shift for the Bhoys when he was available.
In the Europa League, he struggled for Celtic this season. It was palpably obvious that he just wasn’t match fit. His normal energy and defensive instincts were notably absent. He looked switched off; not through ambivalence, but because personal issues and lack of fitness were affecting him.
Upon signing, Lennon spoke of Elhamed’s qualities [BBC]. The former Ashdod and Gent man was described as “strong defensively, very quick and a very good addition.” And a good addition he was indeed. More’s the pity that he couldn’t play more matches for Celtic.
Celtic say goodbye to Hatem Elhamed, but what if…?
Here’s a question, though.
What if Jonjoe Kenny had turned down a loan move? Would Lennon have to keep Elhamed, a clearly unhappy player, or rotate Kristoffer Ajer and Anthony Ralston at right-back? That’s a terrifying prospect.
No disrespect to Anthony Ralston, who initially looked like a genuine prospect when he broke through (to an extent) at Celtic. At least to me, any way. But he’s never proven himself to be at the calibre required to play for Celtic for any sort of sustained period.
As for Ajer, he’s one of our best players, but as a centre-back. Playing him out on the right would be wasting his particular skill-set. It’d be shades of Alan Smith at Manchester United.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where a player that unhappy would be forced to stay at the club.
Surely, the writing was on the wall with Hatem Elhamed and Celtic. Frankly, it would’ve been cruel to keep the defender given the circumstances. You can’t expect top performances from a player who is struggling with real life stuff.
And so, goodbye Hatem Abd Elhamed. We hardly knew ye.