Why Sead Haksabanovic is a perfect fit for Celtic - 15-year-old debut, big-money moves, goals and assists

There is something unnerving watching a full-back go to Celtic Park as part of an opposition team. They don’t know exactly who they will face. Whoever they do, they know is going to be quick, elusive, capable of giving them a chasing.

There is James Forrest or Mikey Johnston who are down the pecking order but very, very capable on their day. Then Daizen Maeda’s non-stop energy or Liel Abada’s ability to pick up the right areas to score or assist. Then the devastating skills of Jota.

Celtic are looking to add to that personnel. Not only that but someone who is quick and skilful, has great balance and technique and is strong.

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Ange Postecoglou confirmed on Sunday that the club are moving closer to signing Sead Haksabanovic, a Swedish-born Montenegrin international. He is reported to be in Scotland finalising his move.

The 23-year-old has had a fascinating career for someone of his age. A debut in the Swedish top-flight at 15, by the time he had moved to West Ham United for £2.7million when he was 18 he had made 70 first-team appearances for Halmstads.

He barely played for the Hammers, spent time on loan in the Spanish second tier and has played in the Swedish top-flight for two different sides in between a big-money move to Rubin Kazan. He has played just 23 times for the Russians due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Haksabanovic has played centrally for Montenegro, whether it is part of a front two or a withdrawn central forward.

Where he fits at Celtic

Sead Haksabanovic is expected to join Celtic. (Photo by Filip Filipovic/Getty Images)Sead Haksabanovic is expected to join Celtic. (Photo by Filip Filipovic/Getty Images)
Sead Haksabanovic is expected to join Celtic. (Photo by Filip Filipovic/Getty Images)

However, his most dangerous position is from the left where he played most often for both Djurgården and IFK Norrköping, where he finished the 2020 Swedish season with a combined 17 goals and assists and a further eight secondary assists, highlighting how big an influence he played in the team’s build up.

Watching him in action, it is easy to see how he would fit into Postecoglou’s Celtic side. He has a low centre-of-gravity, brilliant balance, which allows him to stop quickly and transfer weight from one side to another. He combines that with physical attributes. He is strong and aggressive, mobile and a strong runner without being lightning quick.

Depending on the game situation, he will pick up certain positions. When there is space he prefers to stay wide, get the ball and drive at the full-back. Despite being right-footed he is more than happy going down the outside but has a tendency to try to get the ball on his right-side.

In other situations, there is a desire to move infield and open up a space down the flank for either a full-back or No 8 to make a run around him. Both suit Celtic. Greg Taylor has been in excellent form down the left where the team have centred many of their attacks. Reo Hatate is adept at getting into wide left positions to combine.

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Haksabanovic likes to dribble when given the chance but there is a selflessness about his play. Often wide forwards will move infield and shoot, he prefers to link play or play through balls for fellow forwards or midfield runners.

You can only feel sympathy for Scottish Premiership right-backs. If they somehow manage to keep Jota quiet, they may just have to suffer the quality of Sead Haksabanovic.

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