Swedish international and likely Ajer replacement; Celtic target Carl Starfelt

By Euan Davidson

July 6, 2021

When Fabrizio Romano tweets it, you know it’s real; so Celtic are reportedly after Swedish centre-back Carl Starfelt.

Unless you’re a particularly avid follower of Russian or Swedish football, you might be unfamiliar with the Swede. However, don’t worry; most everything about the guy implies he could be a really solid option for the Bhoys going forward. Starting with the basics; Starfelt is 6’1″, 26-years-old and holds 3 caps for the Swedish national team.

While he didn’t make the Swedish Euro 2020 squad [UEFA], Starfelt was impressive for Russian side Rubin Kazan in the 20-21 season. He finished with the most minutes played by any of the squad [WhoScored?], in a defence that ranked second in the league [Eurosport].

All of his caps have come in friendly matches, and all in 2020. Two wins, with one clean sheet, and an understandable loss to Denmark, are the highlights of nascent international career so far.

Let’s get into the woods a bit; stats. What’s Starfelt good at? His reading of the game and mopping up dangerous situations are definite attributes. Last season, he average 1.4 interceptions and 3.9 clearances per 90 [WhoScored?].

An exciting seven days for Celtic fans is about to get underway

But don’t think he’s just a brute who blasts the ball out of danger. Typically, for a Celtic target, this is a guy who likes to pass the ball. His short passing is excellent, averaging a 91% passing success rate. He’s also accurate with longer passes, averaging 3 a game to engineer attacks from deep.

Who would Carl Starfelt replace in the Celtic squad?

Undoubtedly, Starfelt would be a replacement for Kristoffer Ajer.

Essentially, he does all the defensive duties Ajer does, but arguably better. The former IFK Göteborg centre-back outranks Ajer in terms of interceptions and clearances. While far less of an attacking threat, in terms of driving with possession, Starfelt just screams solidity.

Carl Starfelt; could be in the Green and White before long / (Photo by David Lidstrom/Getty Images)

That’s something we’ve lacked in recent seasons.

Just like Kristoffer Ajer, he has a very tidy haircut. But one issue remains; the Norwegian far outranks Starfelt in terms of Aerial Duels [WhoScored?]. Given the problems Celtic had defending set-pieces last season, that’s a bit of a worry. Ajer had around twice the number of successful duels, yet we still leaked goals from lofted passes.

Alongside Christopher Jullien, it’s something Starfelt could definitely work on. In terms of the ground defensive fundamentals though, Starfelt is a promising player approaching the nadir of his career.

This could be some very solid business indeed.

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