"A complete player"; Why Alistair Johnston could be another astute piece of business by Celtic

By Lewis Laird

November 24, 2022

Celtic could be closing in on their second deal of the January window, with reports suggesting that a move to bring Alistair Johnston to Glasgow is at an advanced stage.

The 24-year-old is currently with his nation at the 2022 World Cup and was in action against Belgium on Wednesday evening.

Shortly after Canada suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Red Devils, reports began to surface, linking the Hoops with a move for the right-back.

Photo by Pawel Andrachiewicz/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

There has been suggestions that Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is after a new full-back going into the January transfer window, and the Celtic manager has discussed the fact business will be conducted early this year.

So, with the deal believed to be at an advanced stage, the Celtic support may have been watching one of the club’s newest defensive recruits.

Johnston is potentially a bit more of an unknown quantity to the Parkhead faithful, having spent his playing days in his homeland and the USA.

Previously, Ryan Lindsay of the Waking the Red, Toronto FC website suggested on 67 Hail Hail that Johnston could be an option Celtic look to in the MLS market.

With Johnston being a transfer target Celtic are looking into, and if all negotiations go smoothly, we thought we would take a closer look at the player Celtic would be getting their hands on.

Alistair Johnston; the tough tackling defender with good passing ability that, could be an ideal fit for Celtic Park dressing room.

Of course, there are many different aspects that Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou will take into consideration when signing a player.

Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

One of those attributes being how a new signing might fit into the Celtic dressing room. And Johnston looks like a signing who would slot into the ‘team-player’ ethos at Parkhead.

Having started his career out in Canada, the right-back has had a dramatic rise, which has seen him advance through the ranks, and now he finds himself at MLS side Montreal Impact.

He is also a consistent member of his national team, picking up an impressive 31 caps since his national team debut in March 2021. And he is very much a valued member of the squad.

Johnston is regarded as a defender in the most literal sense and is believed to love a tackle after spending his younger years playing Ice Hockey [Sun Sport].

Whenever his teammate finds themselves in an altercation, the defender is one of the first players to back them up, showcasing his ability as a team player.

He referred to this in an interview with The Athletic when he and his international teammates were involved in an altercation during a qualifier against Panama, nicknaming himself ‘the Enforcer’.

He said: “We have some star boys in this team. And if someone lays a hand on them, they need to be protected.

“This is CONCACAF. It’s gonna get chippy. And you know what, I want that to be my role. I want to be the one in the middle of that scrum, protecting their backs so that they’re not the ones getting hurt. That’s something I treasure.”

He continued: “It’s cool that I can say, ‘Yeah, I’m almost the enforcer. Wayne Gretzky’s out there, you always need someone else checking his back to make sure that no one takes a whack at him.”

That sort of attitude would see Johnston fit in well at Parkhead. The Celtic Park dressing room is full of team players, and he clearly someone who loves playing for his teammates.

Although he has been described as somewhat of a throwback defender, Canadian boss John Herdman has also insisted he has the quality attributes on the ball to go with that.

Johnston became a favourite of Herdman’s when he took the national team job, and the Englishman is always full of praise for the versatile defender.

In the same Athletic article, there were some really interesting comments from the Canada national team coach, who was discussing the qualities that his right back brings to the team.

Herdman labelled Johnston the ‘complete player’, praising his passing, decision-making on the ball and ability to travel inside, which are all key features of a right back in Ange Postecoglou’s side.

He said: “He is a complete player and has been critical to the success of this team.”

The Canada boss continued: “I don’t want to pigeonhole him into being a stereotypical tough Canadian defender.

“He’s way better than that. His passing is clean. He makes good decisions on the ball, he can eliminate pressure. He can travel inside. In his (Gold Cup debut against Martinique), he was able to display a lot of things in his arsenal people hadn’t seen before.”

“It’s very rare that you see that type of player. And that type of player could be worth a lot of money and a lot of value to a team that wants to have that flexibility in their game. Which is what he’s allowed us to do.”

Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

There certainly seems to be a lot to like about Johnston if the comments from his international boss are anything to go by.

He appears to be a solid defensive option who also possesses quality on the ball. And he has all the attributes you would want from a team player entering this Celtic Park dressing room.

If he was to impress with his performances during the World Cup, there is no doubt that interest from across the globe would arise.

So, it is fantastic to see Ange Postecoglou and Celtic attempting to make these moves early and bring another potentially quality addition to the club.

Of course, there could be a long way to go, in terms of the negotiations in this deal, particularly with Johnston still out in Qatar.

However, the signs appear positive as the Celtic manager aims to have his second January addition in the door by the first day of 2023.

In other news, Familiar Celtic transfer link resurfaces; why support may be doubtful of interest.