One of the unspoken stories coming out of Sunday’s glorious Celtic cup final win over Rangers is the performance of Jeremie Frimpong up against Ibrox attacker Ryan Kent.
Much of that likely has to do with Frimpong’s clumsy challenge on Alfredo Morelos, which resulted in a subsequent penalty and red card that threatened victory for Neil Lennon’s men.
It’s hard to go overboard with praise when you get sent off in a cup final.
However, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the youngster was having an excellent game up to that point, especially in the first half when he went toe-to-toe with Kent.
Expensive but ineffective
The Rangers man arrived back in Scottish football during the summer window after a loan spell at Ibrox last season. His transfer was a big deal in the context of the game north of the border, with our city rivals shelling out a reported £7m fee for his services (BBC).
To date though he’s hardly kicked into top gear, suffering from a range of fitness and injury issues.
Recently he’s played more and more in Gerrard’s team and to date, his direct goal contribution tally stands at three goals and two assists (Transfermarkt).
Yesterday’s final was his big chance to really show he’s arrived in a big way once again.
However, he was largely ineffective, restricted to just a few half chances and not taking any of them. In the first part of the game, that was largely due to an energetic Frimpong.
In stark contrast to Kent, Frimpong’s arrival to Scottish football during the summer flew right under the radar. He arrived on deadline day for a reported initial fee of £350,000 (The Scottish Sun).
That’s a budget deal by Celtic standards and going by the way they shelled out on Kent, by Rangers’ standards too.
His emergence in the Hoops first-team has been incredibly exciting and yesterday’s final was undoubtedly his biggest test to date.
In the first half, he was our only outfield player who looked to have the quality and composure to combat Rangers on the day.
Showing strength and pace defensively, he also had skill on the ball and ambition to attack our opponents down our right flank.
He simply outclassed Kent, against all expectations on paper.
Still lessons to learn
As noted, it didn’t go all Frimpong’s way in the final but that had little to do with Kent.
In fact, things were going so poorly for Rangers with that direct match up that Gerrard moved Morelos further left, where he did find joy going up against the Celtic youngster.
It was a big lesson for the teenager and one which should provide him with great experience and improvement.
Frimpong hasn’t been so celebrated just because of his current ability but because of the potential he holds.
If he is this good and this confident right now, then just how good is he going to eventually be?
Moments like conceding the penalty are inevitably going to occur, mistakes will happen.
However, it’s a thrill to see him perform so well generally and hopefully he’s right back in the team as soon as he’s able.