One of the 20-21 bright lights for Celtic looks to have a fight for first-team future

By Euan Davidson

November 27, 2021

You have to feel a wee bit sorry for 20-21 breakout Celtic star Ismaila Soro.

Last season, a grim one in general for Celtic, Soro was the name on fan’s lips. He was one of few players to actually make an impression, to become beloved by supporters against considerable odds.

His first real statement for the Bhoys, in the 3-2 win over Lille, seemed revelatory. Ismaila Soro looked, for all intents and purposes, the modern defensive midfielder. Energetic, good in the tackle, smart in the pass and with decent technique, it seemed we’d snagged a bargain.

Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images

Or, rather, found a bargain from the back of the proverbial wardrobe. It was genuinely easy to forget we’d signed the Ivorian.

Across 20-21, his performances showed ambition and drive in a team that lacked both qualities in abundance. That, and his personality. Soro had, and has, an infectious smile that supporters responded to immediately.

Yet, we’re in need of cover in defensive midfield tomorrow, if Bitton’s going to be out. More likely than not it’ll be James McCarthy, and not Soro, starting against Aberdeen.

It’s strange, because when we first heard about Postecoglou coming to Celtic, it wasn’t hard to imagine the Ivorian fitting right in. Someone who can win the ball deep, move it quickly and make heads-up passes. A player with the energy suited to pressing football. Soro just seemed like a fit.

He’s been anything but. Of the available minutes in the league this season, Soro has played a mere 19% [Transfermarkt].

Fan favourite Ismaila Soro, so popular last season, seems well out of Celtic reckoning

It seems as if the likeable midfielder just hasn’t impressed Ange Postecoglou.

Injuries in midfield haven’t moved Soro up in the pecking order whatsoever.

That’s strange because, as we’ve covered, you’d have thought he could be ideal. Instead, in his brief appearances, he’s lacked the assuredness he showed last season. His possession has been erratic, while off the ball, his tackling hasn’t been particularly well-timed.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

That’s a shame. At 23, he still has a heck of a lot of time to improve. Yet, chances are Ange Postecoglou will be looking at his midfield options. Fernando Henrique’s persistent links to Celtic are an even more ominous sign for Ismaila Soro.

If Celtic do add in more bodies, what does that say about Soro’s future? That’s hypothetical. Tomorrow will be a more realistic vision of how close Soro is to the first-team.

I.e., he won’t be in the first team.

As a big fan of his, personally I hope he can turn things around, and really take his next opportunity under Ange Postecoglou. There’s still a player there, his 20-21 performances can’t have been an anomaly.

But he’s running out of time to prove otherwise.

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