3 top-class left backs who'd slot perfectly into Ange's Celtic system

By Euan Davidson

March 25, 2022

We’re getting ever-closer to the transfer window being open again, and for Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, the ideal situation would be to strengthen a title-winning side.

That’s a real possibility. In the past, Celtic haven’t tended to improve the squad wholesale when we’re in a strong position. Not that we haven’t had chances, but more often than not, it’s been a case of filling gaps after big talents are lured away.

That doesn’t have to be the case this summer, and for many supporters, the first port of call in upgrading Celtic will be at left-back.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

This isn’t to discredit Greg Taylor, of course. The former Kilmarnock man has been steady and consistent for much of this season, and tends to go a bit underrated. However, we’ve seen the impact that adding another international full-back can have; Josip Juranovic has been sensational on the right.

Neither is it to say that Liam Scales has no future at Celtic, either. The fact is, though, you’ve got to improve from a place of real strength.

So if we look at left-backs, where are we best aiming our attention? Simple, really; players from Europe’s top competitions, who are also within the club’s price bracket. So, we had a scour online, and here are three names who could be an excellent fit for Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic in the left-back position.

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Franciso Moura; a great fit for Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic

The Portuguese league has been stacked with value for what seems like forever. The fact that Celtic were able to loan a player as good as Jota has been says plenty.

With that in mind, then, it was more than worth having a look at the Liga Nos for a left-back. And we’ve picked out Francisco Moura of S.C. Braga.

Funnily enough, he has Yan Couto, a defender strongly linked with Celtic in the past, on the other flank. Moura, though, offers a little more than his fellow Brazilian, from both an attacking and defensive perspective. In this season’s Europa League, he’s managed 17 successful ball pressures [Fotmob], winning the ball within five seconds of applying pressure.

Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

If you’re wondering why that matters, think of Ange Postecoglou’s preference for an intense pressing game. Moura, simply put, doesn’t like not having the ball.

At just 22, he’s also showing significant improvement carrying the ball into the opposition’s final third, while his short passing is typically accurate. That shows in his Shot Creating Actions – 3.23 per 90 in the Europa League this season – which means he’s making things happen for team-mates on a regular basis [Fotmob].

He’s still young, but his Portugal youth caps and his prominence in the S.C. Braga set-up show a player who’s improving rapidly. This’d be a smart pick-up for Celtic.

Sam Vines – could Ange’s Celtic have two USA stars in the defence?

Whether Cameron Carter-Vickers stays permanently or tries his luck elsewhere, it shouldn’t close the door on American defensive options.

Royal Antwerp’s Sam Vines is a very interesting player. Signed for less than £2m last summer from Colorado Rapids, Vines has impressed at Europa League level. Coincidentally, he too shares a club with a former Celtic target, Aurelio Buta. No, this wasn’t on purpose.

If you’re looking for a pressing left-back, Vines’ stats are pretty formidable. He averaged 13 successful pressures in the Europa League this season [Fotmob], while his basic tackling and interception numbers in the Belgian top-flight compare well with Juranovic or Taylor [WhoScored?].

Photo by KRISTOF VAN ACCOM/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Fotmob have Sam Vines comparing well with other full-backs in general. He ranks well for touches in the opposition penalty box, progressive passes and pressures – all very good attributes for a full-back in Ange’s Celtic system.

Also 22 years old, it might take a few bob for Antwerp to part with Sam Vines. A big future, though, seems assured.

PSV Eindhoven left-back Mauro Junior – perfect on paper for Celtic

If you wanted a modern inverted full-back, you’d preferably pick someone who has played in the middle, and in an advanced wing position during their career. Y’know, for the experience of it.

PSV Eindhoven’s Mauro Junior has done just that. In fact, finding a position Mauro Junior hasn’t played during his career is probably easier [Transfermarkt]. The majority of his appearances have been at left-back this season, though, so he absolutely qualifies.

A Brazilian youth international, Mauro Junior has been at PSV for a while now, having signed from Desportivo in 2017. He’s really blossomed this season, and he’s comparing extremely well against some of the top left-backs around Europe.

Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images

Defensively, he’s averaging 2 tackles and 1.2 interceptions in the Eredivisie, but he’s also chipping in with goals and assists (2 of each this season), while making telling attacking contributions. He averages 1.1 dribbles and 1.3 key passes from left-back – particularly impressive for the position he plays [WhoScored?].

A versatile player with flair and defensive guile, he could be the left-back answer to Josip Juranovic, and as competition hots up for the left-back slot in the Brazil national team, he’s a name to keep an eye on.

Read more: “All my heart”; Juranovic brushes off Croatian media’s Celtic transfer question