Our View: Sebastian Andersson can be a Vennegoor of Hesselink kind of signing for Celtic

By John McGinley

December 17, 2019

With Celtic’s January transfer window just around the corner, speculation is mounting about what kind of signings Neil Lennon will be making ahead of the second half of the season.

One of the areas of the squad that needs more depth is the striking position.

Although Odsonne Edouard is once again proving he is the best forward in the country this season with big goals and big performances, beyond him, the options are limited for Lennon.

Vakoun Bayo has hardly played since signing in January of this year, while it would be risky to fully rely on Leigh Griffiths in the second half of the season given his fitness problems.

One player apparently on the Bhoys’ radar is Sebastian Andersson.

German newspaper Bild reported last week that Celtic scouts were in attendance to watch the Union Berlin man in action.

Eight goals in Bundesliga action this season suggests he has real quality, but what else can we glean from his season so far, and why are we in a rush to compare him to Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink?

(Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Aerial prowess

One thing that immediately stands out from Andersson’s game is the aerial threat he brings to Union Berlin’s game, much in the manner that Vennegoor of Hesselink did at Celtic.

Standing at 6ft 3in tall (Transfermarkt), identical to the Hoops’ former Dutch hero, Andersson has a massive presence in the air.

As shown by WhoScored, he’s won a remarkable 122 aerial duels in just 15 Bundesliga appearances this season, an average of more than eight per game.

Half of his goals this season were scored with his head.

Similar data is not available in the Scottish Premiership, but it’s clear that’s something lacking in our final third so far this season.

Edouard has many strengths, but battling in the air is not high on the list. In the Europa League, WhoScored shows Edouard won 1.8 aerial battles per game. It’s just not a big part of his all-round game.

Vennegoor of Hesselink’s physicality and aerial ability in attack defined much of his Celtic career, often found bringing players such as Scott McDonald into the game or powering headers home.

(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Penalty box player

Another stand-out trait of Andersson is his ability to get himself into the box, get on the end of passes and score goals.

Again, data from WhoScored shows that all eight of his goals in the German top-flight this season have come inside the penalty box, with three of them coming inside the six yard box.

Of the 34 efforts on goal he’s had this term, only four have come outside of the penalty area. A massive 18 of them came from his head.

That demonstrates he’s a player who enjoys getting stuck into the heart of the attacking battle, rather than focus on creativity.

Again, for all Edouard’s strengths in dribbling, passing and scoring goals, he isn’t what you would consider as a penalty box striker. Andersson could very much be our ‘plan B’ player that helps us in tight games or even in European action. He’s already scoring at a high level.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Do we need a Vennegoor of Hesselink style player?

Not only does Andersson appear to play in a similar manner to the Gordon Strachan signing, but he has a similar profile too. Like Vennegoor of Hesselink when he arrived at Celtic Park, the Swedish international is 28 and has good experience on the continent.

But do we need a player like him? I would argue yes.

I love Edouard but having a battering ram in the final third, who has real quality and can show up in big moments, could be crucial to the development of Lennon’s team.

Signing up a mercenary striker who can directly plug into our team and complement Edouard rather than directly compete with him is ideal in my book.

Of all the players we’ve been linked with recently, Andersson stands as one of the strongest contenders.

With Transfermarkt showing his contract expires at the end of the season, can we convince him to move to Glasgow?