Vuskovic, not Sviatchenko, represents way forward for Celtic

By Euan Davidson

June 24, 2021

Celtic are reportedly after Mario Vuskovic again, and that seems far more like it.

Vuskovic, a youth international for Croatia, represents some solid scouting work and ambition from Celtic. And in times where we’ve been looking to more obvious targets, including ex-Bhoys like Erik Sviatchenko, it’s a refreshing change of pace.

This isn’t a knock against Sviatchenko per se, and God knows we need the numbers. Quality and quantity are both important factors in a rebuild. But given the attention Vuskovic is attracting from across Europe, it seems like the Croat is held in high esteem. That should comfort Celtic supporters.

It’s particularly interesting to see this transfer saga re-emerge. Back in May, it looked as if Torino had landed the defender for £5m [Daily Record]. Torino are reportedly still interested [Sun], but for once, another club’s dithering may have put paid to a potentially excellent deal. And it’s the kind of thing Celtic ought to be doing more of.

Considering the resources at Celtic’s disposal, these kinds of moves ought to happen more often. Of course, there’s a huge element of risk involved signing players from less-heralded leagues; Marian Shved and Patryk Klimala being key examples. However, the international pedigree, the figures involved and the centre-back’s age all point to this being a good deal for the club.

"Carl Starfelt to Celtic is a big possibility" | Swedish journalist Anel Avdić

He can even take free kicks and score from outside the box, just like Virgil van Dijk, as shown here.

Delving into the past isn’t what Celtic fans want right now; it’s stuff like this.

Celtic have to be aggressive and forward-thinking; Vuskovic bid suggests that

It’s not as if we’ve been stuck in the past for ages. Celtic have made and will continue to make excellent signings. Look at Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Jeremie Frimpong, for example. All were plucked from obscurity and are now multi-million pound players.

If anything, Vuskovic is far less of a risk than any of that list. Already experienced in European football with Hajduk Split, the centre-back’s 44 career appearances in the top-flight are a solid grounding [Transfermarkt]. There’s plenty to be excited about there.

Mario Vuskovic dives for the ball on duty with Croatia / (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

And while we love Erik Sviatchenko, the Invincible centre-back, by this point is a known quantity with glaring weaknesses for a high-tempo side. Ange Postecoglou’s tactical style is a bit of an uncomfortable fit for the Dane, and while he could be useful in small bursts, he doesn’t exactly inspire confidence as a regular option.

He could move to Celtic and be better than he was. However, his lack of pace and passing range is a legitimate worry, and fans were right to suspect we could be moving in the wrong direction. Vuskovic rectifies both of those problems. There’s a balance to be struck.

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