Five things Celtic fans should know about signing target Liam Moore

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Everything there is to know about the 24-year-old centre-back from Reading.

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Celtic are reported to be interested in centre-back Liam Moore. Picture: Getty

Celtic are reported to be interested in centre-back Liam Moore. Picture: Getty

He’ll fit seamlessly into the Celtic team

This wouldn’t be a signing for the future. Moore should be able to come into the Celtic starting XI and star right now.

He’s comfortable in the possession-based game enjoyed by Brendan Rodgers. Despite their struggles in the league this season, Reading rank first in overall possession with 57.6 on average. You cannot be a great passing side without defenders who’re comfortable on the ball and Moore is exactly that. He’s composed and doesn’t get too easily flustered under pressure, while he’s unafraid of driving forward with the ball, having spent limited time at full-back at varying points across his young career.

He should be a good foil for Boyata

At 6ft 1in, Moore is big enough to play in the centre of defence without concerns over his physicality. He’s strong and aggressive in the challenge, which allows him to battle with even the most formidable of opponents.

Against certain opponents there may be slight concerns about his aerial prowess. He has won just 58.78 per cent of his aerial duels so far this campaign, which puts him firmly in the lower half of English Championship defenders.

Celtic’s right-back/centre-back cover Mikael Lustig, by comparison, has won 69.12 per cent of his battles in the air, about a percentage point behind Celtic’s leader in that category, Dedryck Boyata.

Moore makes up for it with other skills. Unlike his likely centre-back partner should he make the move north, he rarely makes an error and is often commended for his consistency in defence. He’s a strong communicator and plays the game with a poise, avoiding rash challenges unless the situation calls for it. He’s also fairly light on his feet, which will also suit Celtic’s style as the defenders spend most matches around the halfway line as the attackers hem their opponents in.

He’s got Premier League experience

Moore was a big part of the Leicester squad which won promotion to the top flight of English football in 2013/14, playing in 30 Championship games that season despite only reaching his 21st birthday after the halfway point of the campaign.

Like the rest of his team-mates, he struggled with the initial step up and his 11th (and last) game as a top flight player came before the end of December. The Foxes would make a near-miraculous escape at the season’s end, although by that point Moore had already been shipped out on loan to Brentford.

He played just one Capital One Cup match in Leicester’s incredible title-winning season, spending half of the campaign on loan to Bristol City.

Determined not to let his career drift between club to club, he signed for Reading in the summer of 2016 despite Leicester’s reticence in letting him leave, as they tried to make him sign a new deal before finally acquiescing.

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He missed a penalty in the play-off final

Things were going so well for Reading in the penalty shoot-out in the 2017 Championship play-off final. Having elected to take first, they’d scored their first three penalties and held a 3-2 lead going into the remaining two spot kicks apiece after Michael Hefele missed for Huddersfield. Moore stepped up as the fourth taker, and smashed his penalty off the top of the crossbar. From there, Reading lost their momentum; Jordan Obita missing their next kick before Christopher Schindler shot Huddersfield into the top flight.

Of course, in evaluating a player you cannot be critical of a penalty miss, especially a defender. It happens to even the best of them and shows the bravery and confidence within the player that he felt equipped to take such a vital kick.

It’s going to be a struggle to get him

Manager Jaap Stam has already come out and (basically) said he’s not interested in selling the player. “If you want to build a club and go somewhere you’re not going to sell your best players,” were the Dutchman’s exact words, which could aimed at the club’s Thai owners, Dai Yongge and Dai Xiu Li, as much as Celtic.

Moore only recently signed a new contract in the summer, and a four-year deal at that. Considering the success of last season and the fact he was so close to becoming a first-choice Premier League player, this does not look like someone Celtic are going to be able to prize away on the cheap, even if the Royals have been struggling in the Championship table this term.

Five million for a centre back may sound like a lot, but we all know that if a Premier League side becomes interested, even one near the foot of the table, then that price is going to skyrocket.

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