Celtic have this week been linked with Ivorian 21-year-old defensive midfielder Ismaila Soro (See reports in SunSport) who plays in Israel with Bnei Yehuda. What kind of player would Celtic be getting and where would he fit in to Neil Lennon’s system?
It’s fair to say Soro has taken the road less travelled up to this stage of his career. Having started in the Moldovan second tier with FC Saxan, he moved a year later to FC Gomel in the Belarusian Premier League. After another year he was farmed to Israeli outfit Bnei Yehuda for the princely sum of £90k. It is here where scouts started taking notice of the youngster’s committed performances, drawing particular interest from Scottish giants Celtic and French Ligue 1 side Dijon.
The 21 year old is known for his combative, rugged approach and seems to be a player very much in Neil Lennon’s mould. Standing at 5 ft 7”, the diminutive midfielder doesn’t let an obvious size discrepancy stop him from getting stuck in. Comparisons to N’Golo Kanté may be premature, although not many would have predicted the Frenchman’s rapid progression following his move from Caen to Leicester.
Celtic aren’t exactly short of midfield options at this moment. Scott Brown and Callum McGregor have the two central positions nailed down when fit, with Olivier Ntcham having to settle with a bit-part role. Christie plays further forward with Rogic offering great depth in the number 10 role. It’s unlikely Lennon would want to play Soro that far forward. Ntcham has performed admirably when asked and it is of little surprise teams like Roma, Valencia and Sporting Lisbon have voiced an interest. If he were to depart it would leave an obvious chasm in the squad which would need addressing. Bitton’s contract expires at the end of the year and it is yet to be seen whether Celtic will retain his services amid January interest from Burnley.
In terms of the midfield youngsters in Celtic’s squad, Luca Connell looks an exciting prospect, as did Ewan Henderson in his limited game time in the first team. A year-long loan at Ross County can only aid his development and it will be interesting to see the player who Celtic get back. Scott Robertson has made the bench recently and it’s clear Neil Lennon likes what he sees. And as for Kouassi Eboue, it’s hard not to see the similarities in their career paths. Young Ivorian sitting midfielder with a 7 figure price tag. Kouassi hasn’t made the grade at Celtic and signing a player of similar ilk would surely spell the end for the man 6 months Soro’s elder.
Neil Lennon’s transfer record at Celtic is a superb one. He has had particular success buying from the Israeli league. Success stories include Beram Kayal, Nir Bitton and Hatem abd Elhamed. Efe Ambrose was also purchased from Israel and regardless of what anyone may think about his ability, he has racked up 51 caps for Nigeria. Lennon’s scouting system has a proven track record and Soro could be the next off the conveyor belt.
Time will tell what level Soro will reach. Will he be the next to leave for mega bucks, or have Celtic found the new Kouassi Eboue?