The idea of Celtic signing Hearts striker Uche Ikpeazu doesn’t seem like something that’s going to go away permanently.
The big English forward certainly impressed against Rangers with his aggressive style on Sunday. He played a key role in helping to secure Hearts a 1-1 draw, and even came close to scoring with a header that came off the crossbar early on.
That result, coincidentally, helped keep Celtic top of the table courtesy of a single goal. And it’s probably that reason as to why a section of the Hoops support are open to the idea of signing him (however small that section is).
A report back in April from TalkSPORT claimed that Celtic were interested in Ikpeazu and that we could get him for around £1million. Nothing came of it, and we were then again linked with him by West London Sport two weeks ago.
Considering he could likely be bought for a small fee, the question then is would he be worth making a bid for?
The fact is that Ikpeazu, whilst impressive at Hearts, is nowhere near the kind of striker that Celtic need in their squad.
The idea of a target-man may be tempting for some. However, Ikpeazu isn’t a target-man the way a Georgios Samaras was, for example. Ikpeazu is incredibly slow on the ball, and doesn’t have any pace to move on.
He’s used by Hearts to primarily hold up the play and to go route one. That’s his game. And at Hearts he’s highly-effective in using his body.
However, imagine Ikpeazu playing at Celtic Park in front of two defensive blocks. Trying to break a team down with him as the focal point would be madness. It would be a total reduction in quality if he played over Leigh Griffiths, for example.
If we bring any striker to the club, he has to fit into Neil Lennon’s system. Odsonne Edouard and Vakoun Issouf Bayo do just that. Whilst Bayo hasn’t made too much of an impact as of yet, he’s still making good runs and has a bit of pace about him.
Ikpeazu, meanwhile, would struggle to cope with Celtic’s quick combination plays. As mentioned previously, he’s a powerful unit of a player. He would certainly bully centre-backs around and throw himself about. But he doesn’t have the pace necessary to play in Lennon’s side.
He could’ve been more use under the likes of Gordon Strachan in an old-fashioned 4-4-2. He works much better with a striker partner he can feed. That’s not something Celtic could really offer Ikpeazu given our preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
This is a deal that just has to be relaxed in the media. Celtic didn’t go for him in the summer, and likely won’t go for him in January. Why? Because he simply isn’t right for how we play.