Celtic are by far the best team in Scotland, which is obvious when you look at the league table. Fans are anticipating a treble for Brendan Rodgers in his first season, but let’s not take our success for granted.
Rodgers has already stated that he would like to get players into the club in January, so he can bed them in time for the Champions League qualifiers which start early on next season.
Let’s take a look at positions that need to be strengthened, to provide depth and quality to the squad, and the players I believe should be targeted.
Celtic’s midfield has been fantastic so far this season. What Brendan Rodgers has done with the likes of Brown, Rogic and particularly Armstrong is incredible. But I feel that our strength in depth isn’t great in the middle of the park. Players like McGregor and Henderson can come in and do a job for a game or two, but don’t add anything than a few nice touches and stability to the team. The arrival of Eboue has created competition for places but we are still missing another player who can make the difference in the final third.
Mutch is a box to box style midfielder, similar to Stuart Armstrong. He played a prominent role in Cardiff City’s promotion to the Premier League in 2013, and QPR splashed out £6 million on the player. He struggled for a place in an inflated QPR squad, and Crystal Palace took a chance on him. He has never been a regular at Palace, and the word is that he is available in January. Mutch is still only 25, and with the work Rodgers has done with the likes of Armstrong, and Sinclair, could he do the same with another talented player lacking confidence?
Celtic are currently trying to extend Patrick Roberts’ loan for another season, but if that deal falls through, then we could definitely do with another winger as cover for Sinclair, and competition for Forrest. Some fans still have questions marks over Forrest, but some of his early season form was fantastic, and having someone to push for his place will bring out the best in him.
McManaman impressed me playing for Wigan in the premier league, but has found his chances limited at West Brom. He is a pacey winger, who likes to take on defenders, great ball control and can play on the left, or the right. The winger was signed by West Brom for £4.75 million but has just signed for Championship high flyers Sheffield Wednesday on loan. Could he be another rough diamond for Brendan Rodgers and his staff to polish?
No one is a bigger fan of Mikael Lustig than me. He completely gets Celtic and the whole ethos around the club, but on the pitch, he can be found wanting at times. Primarily a right back, but can play at centre-half, which is where I see Rodgers pushing him towards over the next few seasons. However, he is still rightly the number one right back at the club, and I’ve still to be convinced by Gamboa, even though he hasn’t had a lot of chances to prove himself. I feel like with Lustig ageing and perhaps moving inside, we could do with a new right back.
I’m still surprised that Chris Gunter is playing championship football. He is a very solid defender, who is great going forward. Spurs signed him from Cardiff as an 18-year-old, so they must have seen something in him. He can handle big games, which he proved at the Euros with Wales, and he’s the type of player who thrives on big crowds and fan support. With a reported £1 million release clause in his Reading contract, he wouldn’t cost a fortune either. As an experienced international with 77 caps, and with nearly 400 club games under his belt at only 27, I think Gunter could be a very good and dependable signing for Celtic.
Kieran Tierney is our number one left back, and I hope that stays like that for many years to come, but with the uncertainty over Izaguirre’s future, we need a left back, unless Brendan Rodgers sees Calvin Miller as the man to take the role.
If he doesn’t think he’s ready, then we need a competent player to fill in for KT.
Hasan Ali Kaldirim
Primarily a left back, Kaldirim can play on the left wing, as well as central midfield so he could cover several positions. He is a Turkish international, with European experience having played in the Champions League and Europa League. His contract is up in the summer, so Celtic could sign him for a small fee in January or get him to sign a pre-contract and sign him for free in July.
With Sviatchenko and Simunovic seemingly our first choice pairing, and Kolo Toure winding down and reportedly moving to Rodgers backroom staff. Boyata and Ambrose look to be on their way out, Celtic are short of first team quality at centre-half. O’Connell and Ajer are out on loan too, so Rodgers needs to look elsewhere.
Gomez is a centre back who can play at right back, so another versatile player. He has been described as a complete defender, who likes to bring the ball out from the back. He has been compared to former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand. He was signed for Liverpool by Rodgers, so they already have a working relationship. Gomez is highly thought of at Liverpool, so any deal would likely be a loan, but an 18-month loan would give Celtic’s young centre-backs a chance to develop and play first team football elsewhere.
It’s unlikely that Brendan Rodgers will sign five players in the January transfer window, but I believe that these are the five key areas that we need to improve, or add to. Celtic have a few youngsters coming through, but I think it’s key to blend them in with experienced players, especially at European level.