As we trickle into the final few days of the transfer window, there are still a couple of areas that we could ideally improve on.
The most glaring one is at left-back/left wing-back. Celtic’s recent change to a 3-5-2 has slightly amended the kind of player we’ll be looking for in that area. An attacking wide player with the ability to track back and defend fits the specification.
However, our recent change in formation may also have lessened the need for an addition to another key area – the right-wing.
Before Neil Lennon tweaked the formation, Jeremie Frimpong was often battling with Hatem Elhamed at right-back. That left James Forrest playing every week with no competition further forward. Yet now, Elhamed is effectively having to vie for a centre-back spot whilst Frimpong becomes Forrest’s main rival. That’s the joy of the 3-5-2 – the right-back spot becomes redundant.
And Lennon’s comments over the last week have strengthened the idea that Celtic won’t be bringing another right-sided player in this summer – something that would’ve been a ridiculous notion just a month or two ago when operating with a 4-2-3-1.
As quoted by the Scottish Sun after Sunday’s 3-0 win against Hibs, Lennon said: “We want to add maybe just one to the squad.”
He then reiterated that at yesterday’s pre-match press conference for tonight’s Europa League playoff against Sarajevo. Speaking via Celtic TV, Lennon said: “If we can add one to the squad – great. If we can’t – I’m still very happy with the bunch of players that I’ve got.”
If we get one in we’ll be lucky
It’s pretty ominous to hear the old “if we can’t get another in then I’m happy” stuff getting reeled out again. It’s almost like it’s a way of making you think that one more signing and we’ll be lucky.
However, given the now glaring need for a left wing-back, we can simply rule out any further additions down the right.
Greg Taylor needs competition, and it’s clear that Mohamed Elyounoussi isn’t suited to playing the left wing-back role in a 3-5-2. Mikey Johnston, meanwhile, is hardly known for his defensive prowess either. Another defence-hardened player is needed in that position after Boli Bolingoli’s loan departure to Istanbul Basaksehir.
Not strengthening down the right could be a problem of course. If Celtic progress past Sarajevo tonight and make the Europa League group stages, Lennon will undoubtedly want to switch to a back four at times. That may again leave Forrest as the only available right-winger if the manager pulls Frimpong further back again.
Then again, that issue could be solved by giving Elhamed the right-back spot and simply having Frimpong compete as a right-winger from here on in.
Regardless of how Lennon goes with this, the chances of us signing another right-winger look slim to none after Lennon’s recent comments. Hopefully, however, we get a deal done for a much-needed left-sided talent.