Uche Ikpeazu praise must fall on deaf Celtic ears

By David Walton

April 10, 2019

Former Cambridge United boss Shaun Derry has given a ringing endorsement of reported Celtic target Uche Ikpeazu.

The Hearts forward has been linked with both the Hoops and Rangers recently. This comes despite only scoring six goals for the Jambos this season.

There’s a uniqueness to the towering front-man that’s difficult to ignore. His incredible strength often sees defenders bounce off of him, and he’s proved an incredible handful when Celtic have went to Tynecastle on both occasions this season.

Uche Ikpeazu has just six goals to his name this season (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Former QPR stalwart Derry was the man who gave Ikpeazu his big break at Cambridge. And, speaking on his former protege in the Scottish Sun, it’s fair to say Derry was full of praise.

“Uch is one of a kind as a person, as a personality and as a player. He’s not your stereotypical modern centre-forward. I’m good friends with Chris Davies and I spoke to him about Uch a number of times this season.

“There will be a lot of players available in the market this summer, but there’s nobody like Uch. He’s only 24, and you’ve not seen anywhere near what his peak will be.

“If big Uch ever becomes available I’d always look at him, even as a plan B for someone like Celtic or Rangers. You would take the gamble. I believe in him because I know what he’s like. The good thing is his self- confidence is brilliant.”

Not what Celtic need

Ikpeazu has been a success for Hearts largely because of their route-one football played under Craig Levein. The Jambos boss loves the direct approach, and this suits a powerful front-man like Ikpeazu.

There’s no denying that many of Hearts’ attackers such as Steven Naismith have benefited from playing alongside him, but does he truly suit Celtic’s style?

Signing Ikpeazu doesn’t make much sense (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Hoops like to play a quick, passing game when they’re on it. Ikpeazu doesn’t suit that sort of approach and combination play. You also have to wonder how the Hearts striker would cope with packed defences, something that often leads to players needing to use their minds and quick feet to break down.

Derry makes a point about having a plan B. But what he really means here is just punting it up to him. But if that’s the kind of front-man you want as back-up, then surely there are better target-men out there than six-goal Ikpeazu.

At 24, Derry is also right to point out that Ikpeazu has plenty of development in him, but Celtic should be aiming higher this summer. Once again, this has to fall on deaf ears inside Parkhead.