Why stopping Jeremie Frimpong is so crucial for Celtic tonight
It wouldn’t be unusual for a former Celtic player to haunt us on a European night, and Jeremie Frimpong could be the latest.
Going back, there are some grim examples. Jo Inge Berget couldn’t get it done for us, but against Celtic? You bet [BBC]. Going further back, there was the gut-wrenching sight of Henrik Larsson scoring against us and thankfully not celebrating [Daily Record].
In 2001, Harald Brattbakk scored a brace against us [Guardian]. That’s just this century; three big European nights, three ex-Celts doing the damage.
And while Jeremie Frimpong isn’t a striker, he’s become key to what Bayer Leverkusen do well.
More than that, Frimpong’s numbers would be much higher if Bayer’s strikers were even more prolific. He had a whopping 4 key passes against Ferencvaros [WhoScored?], and could be averaging an assist per game in the Bundesliga with more accurate shooting.
As we know, Frimpong likes to maraud forward, and that’s been the case with Leverkusen, too. The difference now, though, is that he isn’t being dispossessed quite as easily. His technique has improved since joining the German outfit, and he’s winning more than his fair share of fouls.
Frimpong will know all too well that Celtic don’t like conceding set-piece opportunities. But you can bet he’ll be going right at his old club in the pursuit of just that.
Now at Bayer Leverkusen, former Celtic defender Jeremie Frimpong is rapidly improving
Frimpong has improved in every metric since leaving Celtic.
The coaching and higher level match exposure are doing the 20-year-old wonders. When he joined Leverkusen, he came off averages of 1.2 tackles per 90, and 0.5 interceptions [WhoScored?].
Now? He’s up to 1.7 tackles, and 0.7 interceptions. If it doesn’t seem like a big leap, it is. Speaking in plain terms, his reading of the game and his success in challenges is better than it was.
Frimpong was happy at Celtic, but he couldn’t have turned down a move to a club like Leverkusen. So adept at turning promising talents into stars, the Dutchman has a potentially bright future.
That £11.5m [BBC] could end up looking very cheap, in time.
What does this mean for Celtic, tonight? Well, we’ve seen the damage ex-Celts can do. But Frimpong is something different. He’s been a creative force, and we know how dangerous he can be in the pursuit of crossing opportunities and winning fouls.
And, he gets to play in front of his former manager.
Stopping the young right-back, with his renewed confidence and improved game, is going to be a key factor in keeping Leverkusen quiet tonight.