Luis Palma is still to be announced as a Celtic player, yet talk of him featuring at Ibrox at Sunday is gathering momentum.
Celtic could do with a spark at the home of our great rivals. It’s been a testing few weeks for Brendan Rodgers‘ side, with a League Cup exit at Kilmarnock followed by a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to St. Johnstone on Saturday.
With the club still looking to fill a Jota-sized hole and Ibrox looming, many wouldn’t be against Palma being thrown in straight away.
The 23-year-old’s transfer from Aris Thessaloniki still has to be confirmed but that is understood to be a matter of time. The player has flown to Scotland, virtually been confirmed as a Hoops player by his father and had Emilio Izaguirre talking about the deal.
Yesterday we told you how Celtic chiefs wanted to race through a work permit and international clearance to have Palma in training in the lead-up to the derby.
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Dyer worked with Palma at Aris last season, as number two to Alan Pardew.
“It can be quite crazy in Greece,” he said. “It’s a better standard to what people might think. There’s not much difference between the two leagues, if anything, the Greek league might be higher in the rankings.
“There are five or six really big clubs with the likes of Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, PAOK, AEK, and us at Aris, clubs with huge supports. They are fanatical over there, they are just crazy about their football.
“It’s like when Celtic play Rangers. You don’t have away supports in Greece and the atmospheres can be intimidating.
“It’s intense and the demands are huge. But Luis is used to that and he handled it. I’m sure that will stand him in good stead going to Scotland as he won’t be overawed by the atmosphere.
“It’s a step up to Celtic but he’ll cope with Scottish football no problem. I have no doubt he’ll really relish getting his chance in the Champions League too.”
So Palma has experience of playing in hostile atmospheres. That is obviously good news ahead of a potential debut at Ibrox on Sunday.
While no side in the Greek top-flight even comes close to matching Celtic or Rangers in terms of average attendance — AEK Athens were top last season with 26,324 (Transfer Markt) — it is reassuring to hear that Palma won’t be daunted by the occasion.
Often, new signings can perform well in these major fixtures. It’s like they’re that fresh in the door that they’re shielded from some of the baggage that goes along with the matches.
Alistair Johnston and Josip Juranovic are two recent examples of players who have thrived making their debuts at Ibrox.
Who knows if Palma will start on Sunday. Rodgers could decide that it’s too soon to throw him in to such a big match.
But Celtic need something different right now. The winger would certainly provide that as well as a hint of the unknown.