Celtic have swooped for Stade de Reims player Nathanael Mbuku.
Reims might be known better for Champagne (Rough Guides) than football these days. Its club, Stade de Reims, aren’t the world-beaters they once were (Ligue 1), but they’re back in the top-flight and capable of nurturing talent.
Chief among those talents is Mbuku, whose first league goal for the side was a ridiculous overhead kick against Montpellier in October 2020.
Having made his debut on the opening day of the season prior, it was a long wait for the striker. Mbuku was already well-known in international youth football. With France, he won the silver ball at the Under-17 World Cup in 2019, having scored a hatful of goals. Brazil won the tournament, but Mbuku put himself on the map as a player to watch (FIFA).
So, there was expectation on the young striker when he returned to the Reims first team. Then he went and scored this goal (Instagram).
An obvious Eddy replacement for Celtic
It’s unsurprising to see Celtic linked with a promising French talent. Moussa Dembélé didn’t play much in Ligue 1 before his move to Celtic, but came through the PSG academy. Odsonne Edouard had the same footballing education, as well as a spell on loan with Toulouse.
Recently, we linked the club with Arnaud Kalimuendo, but Celtic pursuing Nathanel Mbuku is probably the more exciting option here.
FootMercato say we’re up against the likes of Parma and Lille for his signature.
His stats may not look too impressive yet, but he’s a raw talent that Reims are bringing into the fold slowly. His goals at U-17 level prove that he knows where the net is. At the moment, his most exciting talent is his ability to run with the ball and terrify defenders.
As this footage shows (YouTube), he’s lightning-quick, and has no problem taking the ball on from his own half. His close control is excellent, and he’s capable of bamboozling Scottish defences with his trickery.
This is a genuinely exciting signing for Celtic. Peter Lawwell, however, will realise that Mbuku won’t be available cheaply. Valued at €8m by Transfermarkt, he’s clearly the top name on a list marked “Eddy replacements”.
If he can make the grade in the Scottish Premiership, he’s another player that could reach the pinnacle of the game, and that’s no exaggeration.
If the Bhoys can get this done, then get the Champagne ready.