What Celtic are getting in Israeli teenager Liel Abada - and will he play regularly next term?

Celtic have a new manager in Ange Postecoglou, but it doesn't seem like they have a new way of doing business in the transfer market.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 14: Celtic unveil new signing Liel Abada at Celtic Park, on July 14, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 14: Celtic unveil new signing Liel Abada at Celtic Park, on July 14, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The club have long built themselves around a structure of going after young talents from the far reaches of European football to supplement a strong Scottish/British core. They hope to catch these players when they're young (and cheap) get a few years of excellent football out of them before selling on for a healthy profit. Sometimes it works tremendously well (Victor Wanyama, Virgil van Dijk, Kristoffer Ajer) and sometimes it doesn't (how long have you got?).

Celtic supporters will be eager to find out whether their latest seven-figure foreign buy is another superstar in the making, or the next Marian Shved.

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The early signs are promising. Already an Israeli international at the age of 19, Liel Abada certainly has a lot going for him. He possesses rapid pace and plays with a quickness which extends to all aspects of his game. He's active, alert and always on the move, whether in or out of possession, or helping his team defend or attack.

Albian Ajeti spoke recently about the onus being on the forwards to defend and press from the front in Postecoglou's new system and Abada would certainly be an asset to that. He's hungry in his pursuit of defenders and his speed makes him a real problem for those caught by a poor touch. SPFL defenders should not rest easy with him in the vicinity.

He's versatile, capable of playing anywhere across the front four in a 4-2-3-1, and would allow his new boss to rotate the forward players, though he's mostly at home on the right side of the attack. There he likes to contribute by sprinting inside rather than getting chalk on his boots.

At this point in his career, Abada is more of a goalscorer than a contributor. For his career so far he has attempted just 1.96 crosses per 90 minutes, a figure that would have him sixth lowest among Scottish Premiership attacking midfielders last term, while his shot assists and through ball attempts are also pretty low. Not ideal, but not much of an issue when factoring in his prowess in front of goal.

He has averaged 0.35 goals per 90 minutes for his career so far – a frankly excellent return for someone who a) doesn't play through the centre regularly, and b) is still a teenager.

His shooting technique is excellent and ferocious. He can score composed flicks over oncoming goalkeepers and 25-yard belters that fly in off the woodwork.

There's a lot to his game that's still a little raw. For instance, while his all-action style means he always catches the eye, he could do with a little more poise in possession. The technique is there in terms of ball control, dribbling and passing, it just needs refined a bit, which should come with age and experience.

He's been handed the No.11 shirt for next season but it's more likely he'll play behind or as cover for James Forrest on the right of the attack as Celtic will look to bring him along slowly. But if he settles well he has more than enough ability to contribute as a squad player in his debut campaign.

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