What a chance Saturday was for Martin Boyle to grab Celtic’s attention and show he’s exactly what we’re missing in our squad.
The Hibs winger was reportedly being tracked by the Hoops back in January when his contract had only 18 months to run (Scottish Sun).
Kris Commons then once again opened up the discussion in the summer when he wrote in the Daily Mail that Celtic should launch a £250k bid for him. In the end, however, Boyle signed a new contract at Easter Road (BBC).
But that means very little in this regard. If Boyle impresses Celtic enough then we’ll make a move, regardless of how long he has left on his Hibernian contract. All that does is allow the Hibees to get a more value out of him with regards to the transfer fee
However, just like Boyle failed to make an impact at Celtic Park back in September in a 3-0 defeat, he also struggled in this one to show that he was anything better than what we currently have.
Sure, he was a bit livelier than his September no-show. You could see he fancied taking on Diego Laxalt when he got the chance, and also had a glorious opportunity to score with a header at the back post in the first half. Yes, he also won the penalty too, but that was hardly down to exceptional striker’s play any more than it was down to sheer idiocy from Scott Brown.
Boyle didn’t turn it on against Celtic
Outside of that, Boyle was again disappointingly anonymous for those who were looking to be impressed by him. The truth is the Australian international flattered to deceive, and that was backed up by his stats.
Stat-tracking website WhoScored gave Boyle a final rank of 6.64/10 – the eighth-highest out of the Hibs starting XI. Despite playing on the right and being one of Hibs’ main creative outlets, he had no shots on target and zero key passes to add to it.
Boyle found himself dispossessed on two occasions, whilst he only managed to pull off 15 passes all game – the lowest of anyone in the Hibs starting XI. That would maybe be acceptable if the Hibs man had put in some brilliant crosses or managed to beat Laxalt in his one-v-ones. But he didn’t. He put three balls into the box and none of them were accurate.
It was the same with his long balls upfield. When Boyle went long on the three occasions he did – all three resulted in the ball being won by a Celtic player.
If Boyle wants to take that next step up and secure a move to Celtic Park, he needs to do more than this in the big games. Yes, he bagged two assists against Rangers back in September, but he’s done very little since.
You have to ask yourself whether he’s a better option than James Forrest. The answer is that he overwhelmingly isn’t. Could he be a back-up option? Perhaps, but he needs to show more consistency than this and prove that he can hurt us more than he has done this season.
With his valuation rocketing since he signed a new contract, it’s going to take plenty of convincing before Celtic are firing an offer into Hibs. That’ll suit the Edinburgh side of course, but if Boyle has the ambition to better himself, Saturday’s performance shouldn’t satisfy him.