3 realistic candidates for the Celtic Player of the Year accolade

By Sean Clifford

April 13, 2021

Celtic fans are quite entitled to scoff at the idea of even dishing out a Player of the Year award this season.

Given how dreadful and embarrassing this campaign has been, there aren’t exactly an overwhelming number of candidates who deserve the prize.

However, things are slowly starting to look up with the appointment of a new manager on the horizon. A new dawn appears to be upon us, and therefore we’re entitled to start looking to the future with a bit more optimism.

So in the spirit of positivity, here are three deserving contenders for the Celtic Player of the Year award, which is scheduled to be announced on May 22nd [CelticFC.net]:

1. David Turnbull

Celtic midfielder David Turnbull / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

One of the few bright lights of this campaign, David Turnbull has enjoyed a fine spell at Parkhead so far. Proving a constant menace to opposing defences, the 21-year-old has contributed 7 goals and 6 assists in 30 appearances for Celtic thus far [Transfermarkt].

Involved in the vast majority of the Hoops attacking play, he has obtained a respectable total of 2.7 key passes per game for Celtic [WhoScored]. Whether it be from open play or dead balls, the Scot retains a wonderful ability to plate up chances for his teammates.

Averaging a pass success rate of 86.5% [WhoScored], Turnbull has a demonstrated reliability which has shot him to the brink of a Scotland call-up [The Herald]. Should he keep up his current form, he is surely a shoe-in for Steve Clarke’s Euro 2021 squad?

2. Kristoffer Ajer

Kristoffer Ajer in action for Celtic in Livingston (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Colossal at the back, the Norwegian has come on leaps and bounds in the past year. Despite enduring some woeful defending at Parkhead this campaign, Ajer has rarely put a foot wrong.

Courting rumoured interest from AC Milan [Glasgow Times] and Newcastle United [The Scottish Sun], the 22-year-old has all the makings of a top level defender. Ever-present for Celtic, he has made 42 appearances for the Hoops keeping 17 clean sheets in 2020/21 [Transfermarkt].

Making 3.4 clearances on average in the Scottish Premiership [WhoScored], he has shown an outstanding knack of anticipating defensive trouble.

Probably the stand-out on this list for the accolade, perhaps it is fitting he scored the decisive penalty to deliver the Quadruple Treble last December [BBC Sport].

3. Mohamed Elyounoussi

“Euan is right! I’ll play in a front 3!” says Mohammed Elyounoussi / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Possibly surprising to some, Mohamed Elyounoussi warrants being in the player of the year discussion. He has scored more goals from open play than Odsonne Edouard, whilst has contributed great numbers despite infrequent playing time.

Including the delayed Scottish Cup, he has contributed 18 goals in 41 fixtures which is extremely praiseworthy for a winger [SoccerBase]. Strikes against Lille, Aberdeen and Rangers in important games have shown that he can be a big-game player.

It’s no surprise that fans are itching for him to return next season. Looking through our squad this term, there aren’t many who would earn such glowing praise from supporters for their displays. Elyounoussi bucks that trend.

The Norwegian has given Celtic an important creative outlet this season. Coming into the summer, the Hoops should really be looking to make his stay in Glasgow permanent. And don’t be surprised if it is indeed the Southampton-owned star that picks up the gong.