Neil Lennon’s priority this summer was apparently a striker when he spoke back in April (The Herald).
You could see the Celtic boss’ thinking too. After all, Leigh Griffiths’ return hadn’t been announced as of yet, whilst Vakoun Issouf Bayo remained unproven and still does. Odsonne Edouard was carrying the fort, and ended the season as the only available striker.
But times have changed, and so too must Lennon’s summer priorities.
Griffiths is set to return in pre-season, whilst it’s time for Bayo to step up and prove his worth. That’s three strikers all fighting for what, at the moment, is one available spot in the team.
Meanwhile, just take a look at the concerning state of the back-line.
Mikael Lustig and his wife have been hinting at a move from Parkhead on social media. Lustig spoke in the Scottish Sun about all the different options he could take ahead of next year too. If he departs, he would follow Cristian Gamboa and Jeremy Toljan from the right-back position.
Emilio Izaguirre has also left the club from left-back, whilst Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic have also departed from the centre. In total, that adds up to six senior defenders having left the club in the summer.
Only the six signed up for next season
As it stands, Celtic only have Kieran Tierney, Jozo Simunovic, Kristoffer Ajer, Jack Hendry, Marvin Compper, and Anthony Ralston signed up for next season at the back. That’s frightening.
Celtic start their pre-season training camp in five days. More importantly, however, their Champions League qualification campaign will begin on the ninth or 10th of July. Ideally, we would have much more than six players available at the back.
Lennon, therefore, will be working tirelessly with Peter Lawwell on the recruitment side of things over the next month. Celtic’s first pre-season game is two weeks today, but that isn’t as important to have the new players in for.
But any new recruits simply have to be across the back-line. A first-choice right-back should be the main focus, quickly followed by two centre-backs to add some much-needed depth to the position. Another left-back isn’t as essential given Jonny Hayes can cover there if needs must.
Lennon’s priorities will now surely have changed. No longer should a fourth striker be a big focus of the manager. First-choice defenders, however, most certainly will be.