Jeremie Frimpong reunion offers intriguing Celtic subplot against Leverkusen as Ange Postecoglou gives thoughts on defender

One of the most intriguing subplots of Celtic’s first Group G home encounter in the Europa League come Thursday undoubtedly will be a return to Parkhead for Jeremie Frimpong in Bayer Leverkusen colours.

Jeremie Frimpong made the move from Celtic to Bayer Leverkusen in January.
Jeremie Frimpong made the move from Celtic to Bayer Leverkusen in January.

The right-back made a mighty impression in Glasgow despite only 15 months elapsing between his debut and leaving in a deal worth up to £11.5milliom in the closing days of the January transfer window. His contribution to the club claiming an unprecedented quadruple treble ensured that.

Frimpong has taken to life with the Bundesliga club in impressive fashion. His club performances earned the defender a first Netherlands under-21 cap this month. And while Celtic were losing 4-3 away to Real Betis in the first round of Europa League group matches a week past Thursday, it was two assists from Frimpong that allowed Leverkusen to overcome a stubborn Ferencvaros 2-1 on the Germans’ own patch.

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Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has no first-hand experience of Frimpong. But having trawled through footage of the games played by the club he took the reins of in June, he is well aware of the crucial development experienced by the diminutive performer following his move from the Manchester City set-up in the summer of 2019.

Frimpong's last match for Celtic came in January.

Indeed, so immersed is Postecoglou in all matters Celtic, he deploys the “we” in articulating his belief that Frimpong has an awful lot to be grateful for when it comes to his former club that he will be confronting this week.

“He has done really well,” said Postecoglou of Frimpong’s stint in Germany. “He did well here in the couple of years and I think he would be the first to say his time with Celtic helped him in his career. We gave him that platform on which to perform. He did so and he got a great move after it. Anyone who passes through this club is part of our history and I am sure he would acknowledge that.”

Celtic face their greatest home challenge under Postecoglou in facing up to Leverkusen. But, as he prepared his depleted squad for welcoming Dundee United in Sunday’s cinch Premiership, it is only anticipation and not apprehension that fills the Australian’s thought about another European game under the lights in Glasgow’s east end. An arena in which they boast seven straight wins and a draw, the tied scoreline coming in his first competitive game with the 1-1 draw over eventual Champions League qualifying vanquishers Midtjylland two months ago.

“I have enjoyed all of it at Celtic immensely so far. All the games have been challenges but the home games with the supporters in are definitely special [in Europe],” he said. “We have already had a couple of good ones, against Alkmaar and Jablonec. Even the Midtyjlland game, which came relatively early, we did really well in that game. In all of them the atmosphere has been great.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou.

“[I may have been here] three months [but] it feels a lot longer, I can tell you... It has been challenging for sure. We have tried to do as much as we can in a short space of time in terms of changing the squad and changing the way we play. We have had some disruption with injuries so it has been a challenging time but equally I have enjoyed it immensely.

“I knew coming into it there were going to be some ups and downs along the way and we have certainly felt them but at the same time it is what it is. That is the kind of club we are. We want to be in every competition and we want to win every competition. That means you are playing a lot of games and it is hectic but you have to be up for all those games because we are expected to win them. It is challenging because the Premiership is relentless but it is exactly where I want to be.”

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