The Leipzig defender was in Glasgow yesterday for a medical that should pave the way for the 32-year-old joining the Celtic ranks when the January transfer window opens. And assistant manager Chris Davies says the pursuit of the one-time capped German international has been embarked on to “get the balance right”… as the electronic rockers once sang.
Defensively, that balance has gone well wonky within Brendan Rodgers’ side – as evidenced by the nature of the four goals lost to Hearts on Sunday as the club’s mammoth unbeaten domestic run was shattered at the 69-game mark. The hosting of Partick Thistle at Celtic Park tonight takes on a different feel then to any previous game in the 18-month era of Rodgers.
Compper offers the club a centre-back type very different to what they currently possess in being very much of the seasoned variety. Effectively, Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic are only in their third seasons of regular senior football. The 23-year-old Simunovic, in and out of the team this season because of fitness issues, suddenly seems shot of confidence and form, and has been offered little protection from his increasingly erratic partner, Boyata.
Compper, a regular in the Bundesliga as far back as 2006, offers a breadth of game knowledge that Davies suggested was only part of his appeal, but a vital part nonetheless.
The Celtic No 2 offered up many provisos in discussing a player still in the employ of another club, but made plain what he believes the Scottish champions will be getting should any hitches be avoided in the £1 million deal.
“Bringing someone in with pedigree is always interesting and, if it happens, it will improve us a team,” he said. “It’s someone who’s experienced. You need a balance in your squad rather than too much either way. You saw the benefits of having Kolo Toure last season, with the experience he has. We’ve got guys like Craig Gordon, Broony [Scott Brown], our captain, guys with experience. It’s not something we are lacking but it’s good to have that balance.
“From what I’ve seen [of Compper] he is a guy who fits the profile of what we would like in a central defender. He is used to playing a high defensive line, he is technically good on the ball, athletic and fast. He understands the model of play we like.”
The model is malfunctioning right now, with Celtic keeping clean sheets in only two of their past nine matches, Celtic do not have that command at the heart of their defence.
“I’ve worked with the manager for a long time and his philosophy always starts with the defence,” Davies said. “It’s the foundation of how we play. The first thing we spoke about when we came to Celtic was defending and to get that base right and then build the attacking play that’s got us a lot of recognition.
“In order to attack successfully, you need that base in order. That’s been our focus. Defenders have had to deal with isolated actions and these are the things that are highlighted.
“Centre half is an area we’ve looked at and we strengthen where is needed, but we share the success together at this football club. At Hampden [for the League Cup final victory last month] everyone was on the podium, from the players to the kitmen.
“We’re together when we win and we are together when we suffer a setback. That’s the culture we have and the manager gets everyone together in these moments. That area of the pitch has been highlighted and we want to support those guys. It wasn’t just an isolated area, we could have been better all over the pitch.”
For all that Celtic are 11 points worse off at this point last season – when they dropped only two points across the first 27 league games of their unbeaten treble-winning campaign – it can seem incongruous to go heavily into the inquests into the end of the longest domestic sequence without loss in British football history.
On that front, Davies was asked yesterday whether he felt the players at the club would need to be lifted for tonight’s encounter following their Tynecastle lashing.
“It’s about putting that in perspective,” he said. “We did something extremely unique and you have to think: “What was different about us? In the last 100 years, there have been a lot of good football players and loads of good football teams – and they’ve never managed to achieve what we did. It couldn’t just be our quality as players, to score goals, save shots or pass the ball. There had to be something more to it.
‘When I think about it, I think about our team values, our spirit and our unity. When people ask us later in our lifetimes about what the difference was – because it can’t just be football – that togetherness and spirit is ultimately it.
“There is a great opportunity against Partick to bring us together again and show our spirit after a disappointing result. Really, that would be our mindset.”