Celtic, in case you hadn’t heard, have had goalkeeping woes this season.
£4.5m-man Vasilis Barkas was meant to be the answer [Daily Record]. Conor Hazard was meant to represent the future, and Scott Bain was intended to be a seldom-seen back-up.
Needless to say, it’s not worked out as planned. We’re still to really see Barkas make a top-class save. The Greek international’s work ethic has been called into question, just weeks after Celtic boss Neil Lennon backed him as the club’s number one.
Celtic have often pillaged the Scottish Premiership for goalkeepers; the likes of Rab Douglas, Lukasz Zaluska and – of course – Bain come to mind. However, arguably the league’s outstanding ‘keeper is out of contract in the summer, and the Bhoys know all about his qualities.
At 31, Ofir Marciano might just be the man.
The case for Celtic signing Ofir Marciano
First of all, money. Marciano is out of contract in the summer [Edinburgh Evening News]. The Hibees are, obviously, trying to tie the Israeli to a deal before the end of the season, but he’ll have more than a few suitors after his displays in recent seasons.
A 23-capped Israeli international, he’s actually something of a coup for Hibs. Over 142 matches for the Leith side, he’s managed 52 clean sheets [Transfermarkt]. It’s his antics this season, though, that leave most food for thought, however; in 23 games, he’s conceded just 19, with 11 clean sheets to his name.
Considering Hibs face 11.6 shots per game, that’s actually pretty outstanding [WhoScored?].
He’s also, as discussed, an international. Scotland fans will know all about Marciano’s pedigree, as he’s frustrated the Tartan Army on a number of occasions.
At 31, he still has a number of years left in him as a top goalie. Yes, he’s not the most exotic or sexiest signing Celtic can make, but in terms of reflexes, reliability, and knowledge of the league, it’s hard to argue he’s not an outstanding candidate.
Would Bhoys sign Marciano?
On a financial basis, it’s a deal that makes sense for Celtic and Marciano.
However, in a year where ticket sales are a key issue, the board may have to break the bank to inspire some confidence. If we can recoup any value from Barkas, then it’s probable that Celtic will try to. After all, he’s looked unsettled for whatever reason, and at this stage, a move back to Greece doesn’t seem entirely unlikely.
Meanwhile, Bain may have featured in Celtic’s little winning run of recent weeks, but there’s no way he’s good enough to be the number 1 at Paradise in the short or long-term. He was signed as a back-up, and that’s his role.
Celtic fans may want someone like Fraser Forster but the reality is, he’s not coming back. We’ve talked about goalies of a similar Premier League pedigree. Any of those listed are good options.
But it’s hard to look past Marciano, from a value stand-point. At the very least, he’d be an astute pick-up for the squad if not the first team. His qualities are obvious, and we could do far worse than bringing in another FC Ashdod alumni.