Five things Celtic fans should know about Darlington Nagbe

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe has been with Portland since 2011. Picture: Getty

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe has been with Portland since 2011. Picture: Getty

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Celtic are reportedly interested in 26-year-old US international Darlington Nagbe, reportedly going as far as to invite the midfielder to tonight’s Champions League clash with Barcelona at Celtic Park

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He reportedly fell out with (former) US national boss Jurgen Klinsmann

It was thought Nagbe’s international career was in jeopardy when, less than a year after making his debut, he asked to be omitted from a friendly double-header. There have been conflicting reports for the reason behind the request. Some claim he was frustrated with Klinsmann’s lack of faith, as the German continually shuffled Nagbe around the team, while others have insisted it was simply down to the devout family man wanting to spend his free time at home with his wife and two young children. Either way, Klinsmann was not best pleased. Fortunately for the Liberian-born midfielder, who became a US citizen last year, Klinsmann was given his marching orders after a recent defeat to Mexico. Bruce Arena has taken over and it is understood he will consider Nagbe for selection.

He’s on a £8k-a-week basic salary in MLS

Wages shouldn’t be too much of an issue for Celtic trying to get their man as they’ll be able to at least double Nagbe’s annual basic salary of $500,000 (roughly £400,000) with the Portland Timbers, though he did just sign the new contract earlier this year*. One source in the US reacting to today’s reports of a £1.5million fee being discussed thought it would be too small to pry him from Portland. However, big money deals for players coming out of MLS have been increasingly rare, with £3.5million for Matt Miazga to join Chelsea being the biggest transfer of recent years. Even then, Miazga is six years younger than Nagbe, and also a US international.

*In case you’re interested, the highest paid player at Portland is former Midlands favourite Liam Ridgewell.

He can play as a No.8, a No.10 or at right midfield

Nagbe is viewed as a player who’s at his best driving the team forward on the counter-attack, or by providing some extra attacking impetus in the centre of the park with great pace and dribbling ability. It’s similar to the job that Stuart Armstrong does for the team now, but the more diminutive Nagbe lacks the Scotsman’s physical attributes. If he joined Celtic, it’s likely he’d be used further forward as a different option to Tom Rogic, or as an inverted wide player.

“I firmly believe it – and some people laugh when I say it – that if you took him right now and threw him in a Barcelona training session, he would not be out of place,” said coach Caleb Porter of his player in an interview with Eight by Eight, which tells you a lot about the player’s potential.

He’s described as an introverted type

As mentioned earlier, Nagbe is a committed family man whose idea of a great night is curled up on the couch with his loved ones binging on Netflix, according to the same interview in Eight by Eight. He’s even been known to sneak out of the dressing room post-game when the media are allowed in to talk to players. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue in Glasgow, seeing as Scottish clubs largely protect their players from the press, but whether he would feel comfortable with the all-round intensity of an Old Firm-centric world is another matter.

He helped Portland win MLS Cup in 2015

Nagbe became one of the standout players in MLS when, in the latter half of the 2015 season, he really began to turn it on, becoming his side’s talisman as they charged towards the MLS Cup final and a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew. It was the completion of an incredible journey, which took him from war-torn Liberia to various stops in Europe as he followed his father, also a footballer, and then on to the United States. He was taken No.2 overall in the 2011 draft and has since tallied 24 goals and 25 assists in 187 games.

However, he suffered a bit of a regression this past year, as his statistics dropped across the board. Fans have often accused him of lacking aggression and urgency. It’s a problem that receded in the latter half of 2015 but came back this past year. Perhaps a change of scenery is what’s required to stoke the fire within him.

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