In depth: Kervin Arriaga, the player recommended by Celtic favourite Emilio Izaguirre

By Euan Davidson

July 23, 2021

It’s nice to see that former Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre is a devoted follower of the club, since he’s recommending players like Kervin Arriaga.

Given that Izaguirre himself was a bit of a shot in the dark by Celtic’s standards, it makes sense to consider Honduran players. Not only that, but the Bhoys have been scouring the South American market, as reported interest in Piero Hincapie indicates [Sun].

When he formally arrived at Celtic, CEO Dom McKay promised to leave “no stone unturned” in the search for talent. So, it follows that the Bhoys might want to take recommendations from ex-players for markets they’re presumably less familiar with.

But just who is Kervin Arriaga? And what’s his story?

A defensive midfielder, 23-year-old Arriaga was born in Puerto Cortés, Honduras. His footballing career began with his local club, Platense FC. As a professional, he spent three seasons with his hometown heroes, topping 2000 minutes of action twice in consecutive seasons [Soccerway].

He marked himself out as an effective holding midfielder, sure. But he also contributed to the scoresheet. A bona fide danger in the air, there are plenty of examples of Arriaga scoring from set-pieces [Futbol HN Honduras], something Celtic could definitely use.

Subsequently, he was signed by Honduran big boys C.D. Marathón, where regular football continued. Playing in the Concacaf Champions League, Arriaga’s tough-tackling approach and scoring antics have impressed scouts and team-mates alike – just ask Emilio Izaguirre.

For a defensive midfielder, 9 goals in the last two seasons is hardly bad going [Soccerway]. He did, however, pick up a considerable 11 yellow cards for Marathón last season.

A highly recommend player, but where would Kervin Arriaga fit at Celtic?

Izaguirre told Diez:

“He is tall, wins well [in the air], has a punch and can play three or four positions: central, containment, mixed and midfielder. He is a complete player.

“I really like how he plays, he can be an elite in Europe and play in the Champions League.”

An elite in Europe. Certainly, Arriaga has the ambition to play here. He’s made his intentions very clear, telling Diez that he dreams of a move to Liverpool:

“Day by day I try to improve, keep learning, I strive to one day get to play in the team that I have in my heart, which is Liverpool of England.

“Firstly, I hope to God that I can at least have the opportunity to do a trial there. I think that it is worth dreaming big.”

Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

Could a move to Celtic come to fruition? And would he even fit? There’s potentially a space for Arriaga in the squad. Ismaila Soro and Liam Shaw represent the prime options in defensive midfield. However, both are adaptable, and Postecoglou hasn’t used either as a pure anchor between defence and attack, from a formational perspective.

If Postecoglou wanted to have options in midfield, it seems the combative Arriaga would add some bite. However, so little is known about the guy on these shores that it constitutes a pretty significant risk.

But then, so did Izaguirre.

Celtic would’ve probably planned to check Arriaga out at the Tokyo Olympics, but injury has scuppered any plans in that regard. It’s a shame, because no doubt Ange Postecoglou would have wanted scouts watching the likes of Ko Itakura.

This is one to keep an eye on. But an imminent move seems pretty unlikely at this stage.

In other news: how we reckon Celtic will line up against West Ham United.