Why Celtic ought to give "ambitious" Jonathan Afolabi a look next season
Unquestionably, come 2021/22 Celtic will have a new-look side as they look to reclaim the Scottish Premiership title.
With multiple senior players set for the Parkhead exit, opportunities will present themselves for those who remain at the club. One player Celtic ought to give a chance is young Irish forward Jonathan Afolabi, signed from Southampton in 2019 [BBC Sport].
The Hoops are facing the anticipated exit of Arsenal-linked Odsonne Edouard [The Telegraph]. Supplemented by uncertainty surrounding Leigh Griffiths future who is rumoured to interest Aberdeen [The Scottish Sun], Celtic may need to grant youth a chance to flourish next campaign.
Currently on loan at Dundee in the Championship, the Irish Under-21 internationalist has gained vital first-string experience in 2020/21. Featuring 20 times for the Blues, Afolabi has managed to register a goal on four occasions [Transfermarkt].
Afolabi is making the most of his limited game-time
Four goals in 20 may not seem like rip-roaring form, however four goals in as many starts does. Known to be highly thought of amongst Celtic chiefs, he cooly netted last week in a 3-0 triumph over Ayr United [BBC Sport].
Offering a wide variety of attributes, the 21-year-old retains great athleticism and strength coupled with a neat turn of pace. As a combination, these capabilities can hurt defences when utilised effectively. Presently embroiled in a battle for Dundee, he is learning how to function with real expectation on his shoulders.
He also recently scored his first Republic of Ireland Under-21 goal, netting in a 2-1 win against Wales last month [Glasgow Live]
For someone of his ilk, Afolabi needs to be playing regularly to maximise his potential at Celtic moving forward. His former Ireland Under-19 manager echoed this sentiment to the Glasgow Times in 2019; saying:
“He has a great temperament about him and I’ve no doubt he can handle playing for Celtic. Celtic is a massive club, but I think he can flourish.
“He is ambitious. He’s the sort of lad that won’t just settle for winning a contract, his ambition will be to get into that first-team. He’ll back himself.
Clearly an individual with a high ceiling, the starlet should be slowly integrated into the first-team picture next season. Celtic need to prioritise the long-term development of players to improve domestically and in Europe. Afolabi could be an ideal candidate to initiate this process.