The forgotten Celtic fringe player who should be targeting a big renaissance in 2022

By David Walton

December 25, 2021

Has there been a more forgotten Celtic player from last season than current midfielder Ismiala Soro?

Soro had a breakthrough campaign in 2020/21 despite the year being largely one to forget from a green-and-white perspective. The Ivorian, who signed in January 2020 for £2m [Scottish Sun], managed to bag 23 appearances in all competitions and made himself a staple of the team in the second half of the campaign [Transfermarkt].

However, things haven’t gone how he would’ve envisaged under Ange Postecoglou. Soro may have bagged 17 appearances this season, but only 6 of them have come in the starting XI.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

The former Bnei Yehuda star hasn’t even made the matchday squad for 11 of our last 12 domestic matches. That’s despite the fact Celtic are undergoing an injury crisis and clearly lack quality depth in the midfield area.

Soro is currently behind the likes of Callum McGregor, Nir Bitton, and James McCarthy in the Celtic pecking order. McCarthy clearly can’t even be trusted by the manager given his limited game-time either. So that says a lot about Soro’s current position.

And he only has himself to blame too. Last season he showed a good range of passing, bite in the challenge, and managed to dictate the tempo of games under Neil Lennon. However, with Ange’s fast-paced tempo, it’s left Soro looking out of place. He’s often caught out of position, and gives the ball away far too easily. Not to mention his challenges have become rash and desperate when given an opportunity this term.

The SPFL do Celtic a massive favour, as Nicholson becomes permanent CEO

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Ismaila Soro still has qualities Celtic boss can use

But the truth is, Soro still has qualities in his game that not many in the Celtic squad do. He’s a different type of midfielder to what we have. A sitter that, when on form, has the ability to be a dominant presence in the engine room.

The problem for him has been adapting to Postecoglou’s style and showing the best form of himself. He’s clearly lacking in confidence, and given his lack of matchday squad appearances, Ange clearly doesn’t favour him.

However, Soro also has a contract at Celtic that runs until the summer of 2024. He has plenty of time to turn this around. Plenty of time to find out what Postecoglou needs from him and do his best to work his way back up the ranks.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Yet this has to be his year. If we’re sitting here in 12 months’ time and Soro is in a similar position to now, his Celtic career is finished. Loan moves will likely occur and his contract will eventually dwindle out.

He’s the forgotten man at Celtic at the moment and for good reason. The Ivorian simply hasn’t impressed in the many chances he was given during the first half of the campaign. With so many players ahead of him in the pecking order, he’ll likely be extremely concerned about his long-term future at Parkhead.

But it’s how he reacts to this adversity that will show the type of character he is. A big 2022 needs to await Soro. He has the ability, but it’s time to see if he has the mentality.