Celtic's current strongest Day 1 starting XI with new signings imminent

By Dave Flanigan

July 17, 2022

Celtic’s transfer window thus far has been about reinforcing, rather than improving last season league title-winning starting XI.

With the permanent signings of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Alexandro Bernabei, Benjamin Siegrist and Jota, Celtic have secured two of last season’s stars on long-term deals and recruited badly-needed backups in two key positions, but manager Ange Postecoglou expects at least two further arrivals within the next week.

Here is the strongest XI that the Australian has available to him ahead of the Scottish Premiership curtain-raiser with Aberdeen on the 31st of July.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Joe Hart – The Englishman was one of the surprise packages of last season, finally signing last summer following persistent links over a couple of years, and putting to bed an uncertain period in his career by becoming a favourite in Paradise. Hart is the best goalkeeper at the club and is firmly Postecoglou’s number one choice between the sticks.

Josip Juranovic – One of the bargain signings of last summer, the Croatia international played a number of positions in Celtic’s charge to the 2021-22 Premiership title but spent the majority of his time in his favoured right-back slot. As one of the most consistent performers last season, its reasonable to expect to see Juranovic as a mainstay when fit and available.

Cameron Carter-Vickers – An eleventh hour loan signing last summer, the American became an essential part of Postecoglou’s side and was nearly omnipresent, before becoming Celtic player permanently this summer. The significant outlay alone makes him almost certainly the first choice centre half.

Carl Starfelt – After a shaky start following his move from Ruben Kazan, the imposing Swede became a key component of Postecoglou’s backline last season, and barring any late significant transfers, will almost certainly reform his partnership with Cameron Carter-Vickers.

Greg Taylor – Perhaps the biggest benefactor of his then-new manager’s change in style, the former Kilmarnock full-back instantly took to Postecoglou’s style as well as any. Though he now has competition in Alexandro Bernabei, expect to see the Scotland defender begin the season as Celtic’s first choice left back.

Callum McGregor – The club captain and beating heart of Postecoglou’s Celtic, arguably the first name on the teamsheet. Although which position he plays will likely depend on incoming signings, and the club would do well to manage his minutes more effectively in the coming season, it would be a shock to see a fit Callum McGregor not start most games for Celtic.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Matt O’Riley – A surprise January signing from MK Dons, O’Riley was thrown in the deep-end, starting games at Tynecastle, Pittodrie and starring the pivotal derby win over Rangers within three weeks of arriving in Glasgow. The Denmark U-23 international is the natural replacement for the outgoing Tom Rogic and will likely start on the right side of midfield.

Reo Hatate – The first of three Japan internationals in Postecoglou’s first choice XI, Hatate was long-overdue a break from competitive football after a near-unbroken 18 months following his January move from Kawasaki Frontale. Dynamic, hard-working, and a goal-threat to boot, expect the revitalised midfielder to shake off his pre-season knock and line up as the left “8” for Ange’s Celtic.

Jota – The Portugese winger delighted the Parkhead support by signing permanently for the club from Benfica last month and is an easy pick for this team. Jota lit up Celtic Park at times last season, and can be expected to line up on his less-favoured right hand side initially.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Kyogo – Despite an injury-plagued season, the Japanese international became an instant favourite for Celtic fans, finishing the club’s top goalscorer in all competitions and scoring both goals in the League Cup Final victory over Hibernian. Despite calls for a strike partnership with the popular Georgos Giakoumakis, expect Postecoglou to stick to his favoured formation with the relentless Japan international leading the line.

Daizen Maeda – The flying Japanese forward joined his former Yokohama F. Marinos manager at Celtic Park in January and immediately hit the ground running, scoring after less than five minutes against Hibernian on his debut. A truly elite presser and versatile enough to play across the frontline, Maeda should join his Japan international colleague Kyogo on the left flank.

In other news: Pundit backs uncompromising Celtic in the Champions League