Should Celtic send Moritz Bauer back to Stoke in January?

By David Walton

December 18, 2019

Moritz Bauer’s future at Parkhead has never looked as bleak as it does now.

The Austrian defender arrived in the summer as the back-up to Hatem Abd Elhamed. What that meant was that we expected to see him regularly in the team when Elhamed needed a rest.

However, Jeremie Frimpong’s emergence from nowhere seems to have put an end to that notion. He’s fired himself being into the number one right-back at the club, with Elhamed facing a fight on his hands. And whilst it’ll be tough to predict who comes out on top between Frimpong and Elhamed, it leaves Bauer in an awkward predicament.

Moritz Bauer has started only four league games this season (Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

He was given a rare shot to impress against Cluj. Considering Frimpong wasn’t initially registered in our Europa League squad and Elhamed was injured, that was no surprise. Outside of that, he’s played only two league matches against St Mirren and Hamilton over the last two months. If Elhamed had been fit, Bauer likely wouldn’t have played at all.

Meanwhile, we also have Lee O’Connor who is emerging as someone who can play at both centre-back and right-back. He made his Ireland debut down the right and even bagged an assist in their friendly against New Zealand.

Is Bauer really doing a job here?

It would surely be more worthwhile for Celtic to find minutes for him whenever Frimpong and Elhamed don’t play.

Would we be better off playing Lee O’Connor over Bauer? (Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Sure, there is always the chance that one of our right-backs gets injured and we’re on a slippy slope. However, surely that’s when you must have some confidence in your youth academy. O’Connor has captained Ireland’s under-21 team and was even added to Manchester United’s Champions League squad back in April (Manchester Evening News).

The Irishman is surely worth a shot now and again in the second half of the season. It makes sense for Celtic in the long-term to be playing O’Connor over Bauer on the rare occasion the latter would be getting minutes.

Bauer has plenty of experience, and that could make Lenny want to keep him around (Epsilon/Getty Images)

It’s unfair on the Austrian too. He’s at Parkhead to play games. If he wanted to sit on the bench for a season he could’ve stayed at Soke. It therefore seems logical to cut this loan deal short. If Frimpong had risen through the ranks back in July/August, Bauer likely wouldn’t have been signed in the first place.

It’s the best move for all parties. However, there’s been no reports that his future will be anywhere other than Parkhead for the time being.