Celtic January choice vindicated as reported winter target Hannes Wolf struggles at Swansea

By Euan Davidson

March 10, 2022

In January, there was very credible chat suggesting Hannes Wolf was a Celtic target.

German outlet Bild suggested that the attacking midfielder was wanted by Celtic, Rapid Vienna and Trabzonspor. No wonder why; despite it not really working out at Borussia Mönchengladbach, we’d seen how good Wolf could be.

Memorably, he was in an RB Salzburg side that went up against Celtic in the Europa League [Sun]. He really impressed at that level, and with the Austrian Champions, he scored 23 goals, with 21 assists [Transfermarkt]. Regardless of his form in Germany, we had ample evidence that Wolf was a good player.

Photo by Michael Molzar/SEPA.Media /Getty Images

A move would’ve made sense. At the time, Celtic were lacking creativity in the middle of the park. Turnbull was injured, Matt O’Riley wasn’t a name we knew yet, and we didn’t quite know what Reo Hatate was capable of. Or even, where he’d play for us.

Celtic missed out on Wolf, opted for O’Riley, and it was a move that worked out. The Austrian playmaker is at Swansea City, and it’s not been a fruitful time as of yet.

In 607 minutes, spread out over 8 Championship appearances, Wolf hasn’t really shown his teeth. He hasn’t registered a goal contribution, he’s connecting with just 80% of his passes, and he averages 2.3 bad controls of the ball per 90 [WhoScored?].

Compare Matt O’Riley’s impact. 1 goal and 3 assists in the league alone. 85% pass completion, just 1.6 erring touches of the ball [WhoScored?]. Celtic are now top of the league. Swansea, by comparison, sit a lowly 16th in the EFL Championship.

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Nobody should revel in a player’s bad form, but Celtic did well out of Hannes Wolf situation

Now, at the time, plenty of folk were clamouring for Hannes Wolf. Again; a good player at a very decent standard, despite his Bundesliga woes.

Still, despite the disappointment when Celtic didn’t land him – however close or interested they were – things have worked out for Celtic. Matt O’Riley has already established himself as high quality both on and off the field. Fans like him, and it’s not just because he’s a good player.

I can’t speak to Hannes Wolf’s character. Maybe fans would’ve taken to him even more.

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

And this isn’t about revelling in the misfortune of a player Celtic were linked to. He’s not automatically an enemy because he didn’t come to Celtic, who knows what factors were at play there.

Still, and this is very easy to say with hindsight, Ange Postecoglou and Michael Nicholson got the January window bang on. It couldn’t have been more crucial – Celtic still needed replacements for the likes of Ryan Christie and (no laughing at the back) Olivier Ntcham.

Now, we have them, and the Celtic boss has some excellent choices to make in a midfield that doesn’t include Hannes Wolf.

Honestly, anyone that will remember him playing against Celtic will know his quality. Personally, I hope he turns it around.

But it’s hard to argue against the idea that Celtic ended up being the benefactors from this transfer story.

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