Celtic could solve goalkeeping woes with moves for Hibs' Ofir Marciano or an old friend

When Celtic parted with a Scottish record fee for a goalkeeper and acquired Vasilis Barkas from AEK Athens for £4.5m in August, going back into the market for a keeper come January would not have been in the masterplan.

Fraser Forster might be netter predisposed to another Celtic loan move now than in the summer after failing to be make it on to the pitch for Southampton this season. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It is now difficult to see how they avoid such a scenario. Barkas, and his rival for the role Scott Bain, seem afflicted by the keeper equivalent of the yips as Neil Lennon has switched between the pair in a desperate attempt to engender solidity in Celtic’s last line.

Barkas, considered one of the coming men in his speciality across European football, must be able to offer more security and shot-stopping prowess than he is currently providing.

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However, with the all-consuming 10-in-a-row on the line, the on-the-precipice Lennon doesn’t have the time to indulge the 25-year-old until he overcomes his assimilation problems. Bain, meanwhile, has now failed to impress perhaps once too often.

Hibs could be vulnerable to a Celtic bid for Ofir Marciano with the Israeli out of contract next summer. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

It is imperative for Lennon to solve a growing problem to have any hope of clawing back the 11-point title advantage held by Rangers. He would appear to have two – potentially - strong options.

The Fraser Forster situation

The genesis for Celtic’s keeper issues can be traced to the failure to convince Fraser Forster, following an outstanding campaign, to return on loan from Southampton (as well as allowing Craig Gordon to depart). It still mystifies those inside Celtic that the 32-year-old declined another tour of duty with them when his eye-popping £92,000-a-week salary was guaranteed to keep flowing in to his bank account from his parent club.

It is believed Forster felt there was a chance Chelsea would snap him up for an understudy role. That ship has now sailed, as has any sense Ralph Hasenhüttl considers the former Celtic man a strong rival to his No.1 Alex McCarthy. Forster hasn’t played a minute of competitive action this season, not even when Brentford rolled around in the League Cup.

The hulking keeper might then be far more open to a move that would practically guarantee him concerted game time for the next five months. Celtic’s predicament, meanwhile, means they would be willing to forgive their painful summer jilting. Especially when they consider one simple fact. In Milan the other night, they lost 4-2 against an AC Milan side that fashioned six shots on target. Precisely the same number as Lazio in Rome last November, when Forster’s brilliance was central to Celtic winning in Italy for the first time with a 2-1 victory.

Marciano magic

If Forster remains elusive for Lennon, a possible alternative closer to home comes in the form of Ofir Marciano. The Hibs keeper has been arguably the most consistent such performer in the Premiership … with Scotland also able to attest to the fact that he has translated this form to the international stage with Israel.

The 31-year-old is approaching the final six months of his contract and one suspects the Easter Road club would be unable to turn down a fee in the region of £500,000. Marciano was brought to Scotland by Lennon during his tenure as Hibs manager, is represented by agent Dudu Dahan, who acted in the deals that brought Nir Bitton – Marciano’s close friend – Beram Kayal, Hatem Abd Elhamed and Ravi Gershon to Parkhead, and has a family who are settled in Scotland.

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