Celtic have completed a deal to sign Moritz Bauer on a season-long loan from Stoke City.
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To get a better understanding of the latest Parkhead signing, we tasked Craig Fowler with watching the right-back in action for the Championship side last season to figure out exactly the type of player Celtic will be getting.
He runs hard and he runs fast
Everyone likes a player with pace. What could be better than watching your man in a footrace with an opposing full-back and leaving him in his dust? Well Bauer has plenty of speed. Furthermore, he's not someone who turns it off and on. He's also not a player who doesn't quite know how to implement his pace into a game. To paraphrase Charlie Sheen, he's got one gear: go! Whether he's running back or running forward he's pumping his legs and arms to make sure he gets there as fast as possible.
He really likes getting up and down; loves an overlap
Bauer's strengths lie in his contribution to the attacking end. Not only is his speed valuable on the counter attack, he also uses it to race beyond the winger, offering another option on the right. There's a great enthusiasm for supporting the forward players. He does it several times per game. And not only is he a strong runner off the ball, he can do so while it's at his feet. His dribbling accuracy in one-on-ones is 59 per cent, which is strong for a full-back.
He's a strong crosser of the ball
During his final half-season with Rubin Kazan he was one of the most regular and effective crossers of the ball in the Russian Premier League. He placed 6th overall for crosses attempted per 90 and was 20th overall for accuracy. Considering the strength of the top league in Russia those numbers aren't to be sniffed at.
He plays game quickly
He doesn't dwell in possession and slow things down. He likes to play the game quickly: get it, take a touch, assess his options, pass it. He's aided in this approach by a strong first touch which enables him to cleanly and efficiently control the initial ball into him the vast majority of the time.
He stays with opposing attackers
Defensively he's not the strongest (more on that to come) but in one-on-one situations he does stick close to opposing attackers. His speed is his friend in this regard, as even if a winger manages to fool him with a feint he has the ability to recover before they drive past him or get into position to cross.
He likes a step-over
Even when they're pointless who doesn't love their players doing step-overs?
His passing isn't great
To put it mildly. He can often check back and give possession to the central defender because when he does look for a pass forward, more often than not it doesn't find its intended target. Five-yard balls are fine but he doesn't have the accuracy for much else. His vision isn't much to write home about either.
He doesn't affect the game as much as he should
Bauer can often catch the eye and looks very busy in any particular game due to his speed and how eager he is to use it, but it doesn't always make an impact on the final score. There's a lot of movement without a telling pass or attacking contribution. This could easily be down to low confidence though and a hesitation to get involved as much as he did when on form and flying in Russia. He only played 11 games across the whole of last season, so when this writer watched him start for Stoke in two games at the end of the season he could easily have been struggling with rustiness or a lack of self-belief.
He's not good in the air
Despite being 5ft 11in - not a bad height for a full-back - he wins fewer than 50 per cent of his aerial balls. To compare, the best full-back in the Scottish Premiership last year at doing so was Dundee's Nathan Ralph, who won around 70 per cent of his.
He can overcommit in one-on-ones
While he's generally solid enough in one-on-one situations, his eagerness to get possession back can get the better of him, encouraging him to dive in when shepherding the winger down the outside and looking to block the cross may be a better approach.
He gets caught high up the park for too often
His positioning isn't bad in a standing-in-a-back-four sense. He's generally aware of what's going on around him and doesn't neglect tracking runs. However, he's often posted missing because he's at the complete other end of the park. As previously mentioned, there's nothing Bauer likes more than charging out of defence with or without the ball at his feet. He does take this to levels which are dangerous for his side, though.
Bauer appears as if he could frustrate and excite in equal measure. Even though he won't be asked to be as defensively disciplined as Stoke would have wanted him to be, as Celtic will attack throughout the majority of matches, he may still leave them short on occasion, especially with Boli Bolingoli on the opposite flank.
Then again, fans should be watching in anticipation when he's got the ball. He's fast, can take players on and whip in a cross. His lack of passing ability and eagerness to get the ball in from wide areas is another indication of a move away from Brendan Rodgers' style of play and the more direct approach preferred by Neil Lennon. Whether that is a good thing remains to be seen.