Celtic defender Stephen Welsh linked with exit to top European club as duo prepare to join squad
The 22-year-old centre-half, who is currently sidelined by injury, faces increased competition for a starting berth at Celtic following the signing of Japanese defender Yuki Kobayashi. Already fighting for a spot in the team with Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Moritz Jenz, the Scotland Under-21 internationalist may find his game-time increasingly limited next year. Despite being part of the first-team squad for the past three years, the academy graduate has been unable to pin down a regular place in the defence and it remains to be seen if manager Ange Postecoglou will use him ahead of his other options.
Welsh has been monitored by other clubs on the continent and Celtic booted out an enquiry from Italian Serie A side Udinese this time last year. His ability to pass the ball out from defence means that his attributes are desirable for European teams and it is anticipated that clubs will make a move for the former Morton loanee next month when the transfer window reopens. Porto, who are managed by Sergio Conceicao and are in the last 16 of the Champions League, are understood to want another defender as they look to topple current Liga Portugal leaders Benfica, who are eight points clear at the top of the league after 13 matches.
Competition in Celtic’s backline will be enhanced next month when Kobayashi and Canadian right-back Alistair Johnston, who signed from CF Montreal earlier this month, are integrated into the squad. Both players are in Scotland but are not available for selection until the January 2 clash with Rangers.