Celtic must look to plug problem area in January

Celtic must look to plug problem area in January

By Stefan Bienkowski

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Celtic could quite easily refuse to sign a single player in January and walk to another Scottish Premiership title. In fact, they could even sell two or three players and still beat Aberdeen or Rangers to second place with 15 points to spare.

 

Yet doing the very bear minimum isn’t really what this Celtic side are about – at least under Brendan Rodgers – and in the coming month we’ll most likely see the club add to their roster with players they deem useful to the all-conquering Parkhead team.

 

So let’s get in to it and see what positions need covered or perhaps even upgraded if Celtic and Rodgers are to continue chasing their goals this season.

 

The problem area is…

 

Perhaps the most obvious fault in this Celtic team is the defence. At the heart of Rodgers’ defensive line are two central defenders – Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic – who probably aren’t up to the task.

 

However, the club have already announced the signing of RB Leipzig defender Marvin Compper to tackle such a problem. We tackled the rather bland nature of the signing here, but rather than copy and paste that debate in here we’d recommend you just read that article and we’ll suggest for now that the club are content with cover in the position for now.

 

Minor spots around the team could also use one or two new faces. Scott Sinclair could undoubtedly use a sparring partner on the left wing to keep him in check, while the central midfield positions may look a little light if Stuart Armstrong does move down south this summer.

 

However, there’s a much bigger problem that may need addressed in January.

 

 

At right back Celtic have the long-term, fan-favourite Mikael Lustig. However, the Swedish international isn’t quite the player he once was and when we take a look at his stats this season it suggests that he’s not only stepping down a gear or two, but also has virtually no useful cover in the position.

 

Although few would be surprised to hear that Lustig’s attacking contributions have struggled to keep up with Kieran Tierney on the opposite wing, Celtic fans may wish to note that their senior defender is nowhere near other top full-backs in the league when it comes to key passes.

 

In fact, the 31-year-old doesn’t even make the top 30 in the Premiership, while the likes of James Tavernier, Richard Tait and Jason Naismith sit at the very top thanks to the manner in which they’ve helped score goals for their respective teams.

 

Sure, Lustig has always been a more defensive full-back, but no matter the circumstance every Celtic right-back should be bombing down the wing each week and creating just as many chances as his counterparts in much lesser sides. When it comes to attacking full-backs, Celtic could easily do better.

 

Who should they sign?

 

Considering the cover for Lustig amounts to Christian Gamboa – a senior defender who’ll almost certainly be moved on after limited exposure to the first team – and Anthony Ralston, the best course of action may in fact be for Celtic to pick up a young, promising player to put some pressure on the senior Swede.

 

 

Jason Naismith is currently having an outstanding season with Ross County, but perhaps a more fitting stop-gap between Lustig and the inexperienced Ralston would be Chris Cadden. The Motherwell wing-back has already shown an impressive aptitude for the Premiership despite just being 21 and could offer the attacking intent that is sorely missing in Lustig’s game.

 

For a relatively modest fee, Celtic would be picking up a young, exciting Scottish player, who’ll undoubtedly go on to play for the national team, as well filling a notable hole in their squad and giving them versatility (Cadden can also play higher up on the wing).

 

What the gaffer said

 

Rodgers has spent the past week trying to deflect attention away from his star striker, Moussa Dembele, but in between his coy remarks there has been some suggestion that the club may bring in a number of new faces in January.

 

Speaking to the media this week, the Celtic coach stated: “At this moment in time the squad is still very much intact and we want to add to it over the course of the January window.”

 

Naturally, selling key players would push Celtic’s activity in to overdrive but for the time being it seems as though nobody is leaving and a few new players may even arrive at Celtic Park.

 

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