The Forster Method: Premier League GKs who could upgrade Celtic
When Celtic signed Fraser Forster from the Premier League in 2010, you could have argued it was a huge risk (Guardian).
Artur Boruc, our recognised number one for years, had left for Fiorentina. Lukasz Zaluska was there, but he was never fully trusted between the sticks for Celtic.
22 years old at the time, Forster had just worked under Paul Lambert at Norwich. Yes, he was 6’7″, but with no top-flight experience, the Geordie stopper was a gamble. Luckily, it was a gamble that paid off.
Somehow, we were then able to sign him permanently in 2012. The fee was a ludicrously cheap £2m (BBC).
Now, we face similar goalkeeping issues, only the issue isn’t lack of numbers. Vasilis Barkas, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard are duking it out for one spot. Hazard looks the brightest prospect, with Barkas and Bain bereft of confidence after faltering seasons.
We’ve talked about potential goalkeeping targets in these pages before. However, what we know now is that Brexit may have an impact on our transfer business. Also, it’s a fun thought exercise to consider options within our neighbourly top-flight. The Premier League is full of bloated squads with quality players on the fringes.
Forster could have been described as such, having been under-utilised by Newcastle United. So then, let’s take a look south to see which Premier League goalkeepers Celtic could possibly bring aboard.
This is, admittedly, on the more unrealistic end of the spectrum where Celtic are concerned. With 98 caps for Argentina, Romero is an established international goalkeeper.
He’s only made 61 appearances for Manchester United since joining in 2015, however, and in that is where possibility lies.
Oh, also: he’s kept a ridiculous 39 clean sheets for the Red Devils in that time (Transfermarkt).
Very much third-choice, Romero is behind David De Gea and Dean Henderson in United’s pecking order. That’s some pretty stiff competition.
While Solksjær may like having Romero around for his experience, you’d expect any footballer with a shred of ambition doesn’t want to be an occasional squad option.
His cup chances are limited in 20-21, given the emergence of Henderson and the ongoing battle for United’s number 1 jersey. Romero’s contract situation is secure in Manchester, so a half-season loan might benefit everyone here.
Another international goalkeeper here, in the shape of Wales stopper Danny Ward. Ward is currently in Leicester City’s squad, but is the clear back-up to Kasper Schmiechel in the Foxes goal.
Formerly of Liverpool, Ward was extremely impressive during a loan spell with Aberdeen. At Pittodrie, he made 29 appearances, keeping 12 clean sheets in that time (Transfermarkt). The spell in Scotland helped Ward to cement a starting place with his national side, with whom he started in Euro 2016 (Evening Express).
Yes, doing any kind of business with Leicester City is unappealing for obvious reasons. Still, if we’re looking Brendan Rodgers’ way for defensive reinforcements (Glasgow Evening Times), it makes sense to take a look at their back-up goalie, too.
Athletic, with excellent reactions, Ward should be a first-choice goalkeeper somewhere. Why not Celtic?
Jurgen Klopp clearly sees something in young Irish goalie Caoimhin Kelleher.
Admittedly, the eccentric German coach has been bound by circumstance, having to play very youthful sides in the Champions League (Mirror).
But one player who has benefitted from the unfortunate scenario is Kelleher, a youth international with the Republic of Ireland. Kelleher has played 3 matches this season, 2 in the CL, and has kept 2 clean sheets (Transfermarkt).
After Liverpool’s meeting with Ajax, the Liverpool Echo were chief amongst those praising the stopper, saying:
“However, it was the Irishman’s composure on the ball, a key tenet of Klopp’s Liverpool, that persuaded the Reds boss to give him the nod, faith that was handsomely rewarded.
With one clean sheet, Kelleher may have reshaped the Reds’ goalkeeper hierarchy for good.”
That certainly acclaim from a newspaper that isn’t shy about giving praise or criticism when it’s due. Similar to Glasgow, Liverpool is a football-daft city, with a local media that is typically and fiercely honest.
Good on the ball and hotly-tipped at every level he’s played, Kelleher is probably destined for the Liverpool #1 spot one day. However, if there’s an opportunity the Bhoys could use him on a temporary basis, he’s a clear option.
In terms of Premier League goalkeepers for Celtic, he’s the rawest choice, but there’s clearly immense potential there.