Vakoun Bayo's aerial ability can be real tool for Celtic

By David Walton

June 30, 2019

The aerial ability of Vakoun Issouf Bayo was on full show against Wiener Sportclub yesterday.

It wasn’t all good either to be fair. Bayo managed to miss two glorious chances with his head before slamming home a late winner with his left-foot whilst on the turn. It was perhaps ironic that his winning goal in this pre-season game was to be so classy after such poor misses earlier on.

And poor misses is what they were. Particularly his second one. Bayo rose from a corner kick unmarked around six yards out. It looked a simple case of just nodding home. Instead, the big striker managed to skew it past the post.

Vakoun Issouf Bayo missed a couple of glaring headers against Wiener Sportclub before his winner (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

It’s easy to jump on the big man’s back and criticise his heading on the day. And sure, it was certainly poor. Nobody can deny he could’ve and perhaps should’ve had a hat-trick yesterday.

But what he also showed is that he could be the answer to a serious pain in the back-side from last season.

Celtic’s aerial ability was non-existent last term

Last season, manager Neil Lennon make a sarcastic remark about how pleased he was to see us score from a corner (Celtic TV). This was after Jozo Simunovic headed home a goal at Aberdeen that felt like our first goal from our previous 1452 corner-kicks.

Sure, it was tongue-in-cheek from the manager. But it was also a nod at the fact we had been so lacklustre from the cross-ball all season. We haven’t had a real physical presence in the air since Moussa Dembele departed.

Moussa Dembele was Celtic’s last physical threat in the air (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

And Bayo, for all of his carelessness with his two chances yesterday, proved he could be the answer. Not many decided to talk about the terrific leap the big forward has on him. The fact he was making himself available and attacking the ball in the air. As a striker, if he continues to get chances like those, he’ll gobble them up in time.

Bayo will get the service

Given how threatening the likes of Jonny Hayes and Leigh Griffiths can be from the cross-ball, Bayo could be a real pest this season for opposition defences. Finally, a striker who looks like he enjoys jumping up to head the ball. Griff is solid enough at it, but he’s not got the physical presence of a Bayo.

John Kennedy (left) spoke previously about Bayo’s threat (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

When defenders look at Griffiths, they’ll fancy their chances of winning the aerial duel. When they look at Bayo, there will be a bit of real fear there. And Celtic have strongly lacked that kind of fearful aerial presence for too long.

Yesterday, Bayo finally showed a glimpse of how strong he can be in the air. John Kennedy was right when he said he’ll give Celtic a real threat from a direct approach (Daily Record). He may not have buried them yesterday, but in time, he’ll get his fair share if he continues to show that level of aerial ability.