How does Mikael Lustig situation affect Anthony Ralston's Celtic future?

By David Walton

June 11, 2019

There are plenty of young and fringe players at Celtic who desperately need a loan move – one of those is Anthony Ralston.

The Celtic right-back has now been in and around the first-team for three years now. If it hasn’t been injury that’s curtailed him, it’s been the fact that there were simply better players ahead of him in the pecking order.

In any case, Ralston needs to continue progressing elsewhere next year. He isn’t yet good enough to play week-in, week-out for Celtic, and a year of Premiership development outside of Parkhead would do him the world of good.  For those three years hovering around the first-team, Ralston has never played continuously with a strong run of games under his belt.

Anthony Ralston has been in and around the first-team for several years now (Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

But how does the Mikael Lustig situation now affect any chance of a move?

After all, Celtic have already waved off Cristian Gamboa and Jeremy Toljan. Lustig, meanwhile, has posted a cryptic social media video and talked up the idea of potentially leaving Celtic (Scottish Sun). If he does depart, that leaves Ralston as the only right-back currently available.

For sheer cover alone, Celtic would likely have to keep him. And it would be at the expense of his own personal development as he likely wouldn’t receive much game-time either.

Celtic need reinforcements

Even though Ralston is currently here, Celtic could still do with two more right-backs should Lustig leave. It remains to be seen who we bring in, but there are no guarantees we bring in two either.

Ralston’s youth days are over (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

If Celtic go down the road of only one addition, Ralston would have to stay. He would be first reserve, and it would do next to nothing for him to play just a handful of games. At 20 years of age, he’s no longer a youth star looking to breakthrough. Ralston is now a man who needs weekly matches.

Celtic haven’t really been able to get a look at Ralston and how he copes with a run of games under his belt. Sending him out to a fellow Premiership rival could seriously help in that regard. Kristoffer Ajer’s move to Kilmarnock, for example, helped the club realise what they had on their hands with the Norwegian.

Mikael Lustig’s future is still up in the air (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

It would most certainly be the best course of action for Ralston personally. But in order for it to go ahead, you have to imagine Celtic must persuade Lustig to stay or bring in two new additions.

Nothing has been confirmed with the Swede as of yet. He could still pen an extension and hopefully be back-up to a further arrival at right-back. But if Ralston is to prove his own point to Celtic and continue his own development appropriately, he also must hope that happens. Being second or third-fiddle this season is one year too many for the academy product.