Celtic's next transfer steps: How to turn a good window into a great one
What a difference a year makes.
On this day in 2021, Celtic played out a 0-0 draw in a friendly against Bristol City, their third game of pre-season, in preparation for a crunch Champions League qualifier against FC Midtjylland, with only one confirmed and available new signing; Liel Abada.
In contrast, all four of Celtic’s signings from this transfer window featured in yesterday’s entertaining 4-2 friendly win over Banik Ostrava.
Despite significant investment already this summer, there are three positions the club in which the club should look to recruit to ensure that Ange Postecoglou has a fighting chance to make this coming season as successful as the last.
Keeping last season’s defensive partnership together with the signing of Cameron Carter-Vickers already makes this the most expensive single position in the team, but further recruitment is required given the existing options should the American or Carl Starfelt pick up knocks.
Stephen Welsh remains a raw, unpolished option, Bosun Lawal is highly regarded but still young, and with Christopher Jullien’s future up in the air after his botched move to Schalke, recruiting a central defender, preferably with the ability to effectively progress the ball forward, is a must.
Ko Itakura, now of Borussia Monchengladbach, would have fit the bill perfectly, but with that ship now sailed, further transfer links to central defenders should be expected before the close of the window.
Callum McGregor plays too much football. With the club captain racking up 4000+ minutes in each of the last four seasons, Celtic should be looking to reduce the amount of football he plays, particularly as he approaches his 30th birthday.
Though McGregor’s combination of attributes are rare and would hardly come cheap, Celtic lack a reliable stand-in. Yosuke Ideguchi remains something of an unknown quantity, and with James McCarthy seemingly surplus to requirements and Ismaila Soro departed on loan, recruiting a backup or development option for the “6” position should be a priority before the close of the transfer window.
Vinicius Souza would have represented an astute signing, allowing McGregor to play further forward and share minutes with the other midfielders vying for spots in the “8” position, but with the Brazilian now confirmed at Espanyol for the season, Argentina U-23 international Fausto Vera looks to fit the more likely profile as a backup option rather than a starter most weeks.
Although an unusual inclusion on first glance with the club already investing heavily in transfers for forwards the last year, Celtic have rarely been able to field their strongest attack.
Giorgos Giakoumakis and Liel Abada are consistent goal threats, but are less suited to Ange’s preferred style than the likely starting trio of Daizen Maeda, Kyogo and Jota, and both James Forrest and Mikey Johnston cannot be relied upon due to their recent injury records.
With Albian Ajeti a likely candidate to leave the club, a hard-working utility forward with the ability to play anywhere across the forward line, such as the oft-linked Ryan Mmaee from Ferencvaros would be a welcome inclusion to round off Postecoglou’s attacking options.