The key area where Celtic don't need to spend big this January transfer window

By Euan Davidson

January 4, 2022

Will Celtic invest at left-back this January transfer window?

Some would argue that it’s our weakest position in some sense. For whatever reason, Greg Taylor – despite consistent performances – just isn’t a fan favourite by any means. Meanwhile, back-up options like Adam Montgomery and Liam Scales have shown flashes of quality.

In a January transfer window where we’ve already seen plenty of movement, it’s likely to be a position that comes up in conversations. The midfield problems seem to have been addressed, with Hatate and Ideguchi coming in. Further ahead, Daizen Maeda is a multi-faceted forward who looks well-placed to slot in on the left-wing. That was an area where we were thin.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Yet, there’s still not huge confidence in our left-back options. And Hatate, who’s played some left-back for Kawasaki Frontale, was erroneously tipped as an answer.

But looking objectively, it’s actually a pretty good scenario we have at left-back.

Greg Taylor, again not everyone’s favourite, has performed well in the role asked of him by Ange Postecoglou. But he’s been a solid choice for the Celtic boss. Although he’s played just 466 minutes, he’s averaged over a tackle and interception per game, while hitting 1.6 key passes per 90 [WhoScored?].

The latter puts him in very decent company in the Celtic ranks. It’s great output for a left-back.

Liam Scales, seen as something of a Dermot Desmond vanity project in some quarters, has been really solid. His defensive numbers don’t leap out, with 0.8 tackles and 0.5 interceptions a game. But his contribution in other areas has been considerable. He has a goal and an assist to his name, loves to get into central areas, and has learned to combine well with the midfielders ahead of him.

“When Ideguchi is on, he can be unplayable” | Japanese football expert Sam Robson

“When Ideguchi is on, he can be unplayable” | Japanese football expert Sam Robson
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Celtic can upgrade in the future, but January expenditure at left-back is no prerogative

Scales, too, is able to contribute in terms of shots on goal and key passes. He’s got 1.5 per 90, just 0.1 below Taylor [WhoScored?]. While Josip Juranovic took up left-back duties for a large portion of this young season, the regular rotation of Taylor and Scales look well-equipped.

That’s important. And while Celtic could look for competition for the duo, it doesn’t really make sense to. Boli Bolingoli will surely leave, and Adam Montgomery will likely remain as third choice and build on his raw potential.

Unless it was a considerable upgrade on Taylor or Scales, someone that wouldn’t come cheap, there seems little prerogative to tinker with the choices at left-back. Celtic have been linked with Lee Buchanan of Derby County in the recent past, as well as Aaron Hickey of Bologna. Neither, though, seem very likely to join Celtic during this busy January.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Celtic have something they didn’t have last season; a settled defence. With Taylor looking to cement the left-back berth from January 17th onwards, you have plenty of defensive depth, as well as decent experience across the back-line. Again, that was not the case before.

It feels as if Taylor is particularly underrated. He was genuinely one of our best performers last season, contributing plenty on both sides of the pitch during a difficult spell for the club. Diego Laxalt was hardly an improvement, despite the hype surrounding his loan deal.

If the only business Celtic do is in central defence, midfield and in attack, then that would represent a successful window. There’s really no need, unless Postecoglou unearthed an absolute nailed-on starter, to bring more left-backs into the fold.

Read more: The big improvement Chris Jullien needs to make on Celtic return