Celtic: Ange Postecoglou's transfer priorities ahead of Champions League clash as George Baldock and Mario Vuskovic linked
The former Australia boss arrived in Glasgow last week and met the media on Friday and painted an assured figure.
When it comes to his style of play, he explained he would ideally play 4-3-3. He likes wingers and wants players to be mobile, energetic and quick.
With Celtic’s season just around the corner, a Champions League qualifier with Danish runners-up FC Midtjylland in just three weeks’ time, Postecoglou admitted to a sense of “urgency” regarding recruitment.
Analysing the current squad, with much work to be done in most positions, what should be the priorities in the coming weeks:
It will be interesting to see the new manager’s take on the goalkeeping situation. Three custodians were fielded during last season. After expensive summer signing Vasilis Barkas struggled, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard had opportunities.
The Greek keeper played the final two games of the campaign, keeping a clean sheet in both after Bain had a run of 14 league starts.
It was a situation which epitomised the uncertainty which played out throughout the campaign at the club. None of the three truly put down a marker down for the No.1 spot.
Probably the most pressing area for strengthening. There was some surprise when Anthony Ralston was handed a contract extension. The 22-year-old played just once last season. There was merit to the deal with Celtic ensuring they get money for the player if he moves on and also a safety net just in case they are unable to purchase a right-back. Ralston is currently their only out-and-out player in that position.
The club have been linked with George Baldock of Sheffield United.
Due to the combination of lack of time and importance of the signing, it’s not an ideal situation for Celtic.
Another problem position last season. Christopher Jullien’s injury was a huge blow for Neil Lennon at the time with Shane Duffy struggling to adapt to the frenetic nature of Scottish football.
Stephen Welsh and Kristoffer Ajer formed a solid enough partnership. But that may only be a fleeting one with the Norwegian keen to depart Parkhead this summer.
Reports suggest Celtic are on the cusp of signing Croatian teenager Mario Vuskovic, while there has been a link to Manchester City’s Japanese international Ko Itakura. The latter, at 24-year-old, has more experience and would likely be ready-made to slot into the backline.
Ajer and Welsh are more than able going forward but there is scope for at least two new centre-backs due to the Norwegian’s desire to leave and Jullien returning from injury.
MIDFIELD – NO.6
Another interesting conundrum facing Postecoglou is who is the man to play at the base of what is likely a midfield three. Scott Brown has left, Nir Bitton is a safe option short-term, Ismaila Soro has shown potential but influence was perhaps overstated last season because he wasn’t Brown and then there is Callum McGregor.
The current Celtic captain is more than capable there for domestic games, especially at home. But on the European stage he is perhaps better operating as No.8.
Postecoglou could see Soro as the future. If not then another key position requires filling.
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