Celtic have just enjoyed their busiest transfer window in their modern history with regard to incomings. 12 first team players have been brought in with a handful of B side youngsters joining the Hoops too.
The majority of the Parkhead faithful are thrilled with the business done by the club as they have added a mix of experience and sheer superstardom, in a sizeable contrast to other recent transfer windows.
Despite the high number of signings, some supporters have expressed concern that the Celts remain light in a couple of areas – namely, central midfield and left back.
The latter is a funny thing. Celtic have two left-backs for whom they paid £3 million each in Greg Taylor and Boli Bolingoli. Added to that, the emergence of academy graduate, Adam Montgomery, has provided another option – particularly after an outstanding display in an immensely difficult tie against AZ Alkmaar.
Alas, questions have been raised about whether any of the aforementioned trio are of the level required to dawn the Hoops week in, week out.
Greg Taylor was brought in with the hope of filling the void left by fan favourite Kieran Tierney. The former Kilmarnock man consistently gives 100% on the pitch and follows whatever tactics and instructions he is given. Against weaker sides, the Scotland international has adopted his new inverted role as per Ange Postecoglou’s favoured system. However, Taylor is limited in attack, struggling to take defenders on and often coming up short with crosses and key passes. The defender is a very useful squad member and someone who will hopefully stay with the club for a number of years. However, in the modern game, full backs are crucial and for Celtic to get to the next level, they may need a bit more quality going forward.
Boli Bolingoli had a decent start to his Celtic career in 2019, putting in fine performances in the Europa League and against Rangers at Ibrox. However, he fell out of favour in the second half of the season. His Celtic journey appeared to be doomed after his bizarre to decision to fly to Spain after matchday 1 last season in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Remarkably, the Belgian remains at Celtic Park. However, of all the aforementioned left-backs, the former Rapid Vienna man appears to be third choice, not featuring in a single minute of Celtic’s competitive games.
Adam Montgomery made his Celtic debut in Scott Brown’s final Paradise appearance as a Celtic player. Written in the stars perhaps? The youngster had an impressive preseason and has made a number of substitute appearances already. Celtic had their backs against the wall in the Netherlands against AZ Alkmaar. Montgomery was tasked with replacing the injured Greg Taylor early in the first half. The academy graduate put in a flawless defensive performance in a hugely challenging encounter. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that “Monty” will be a strong asset for Celtic in years to come. However, with the number of games that Celtic will play this season, it would be too big an ask for the 19 year old to be a main option. No doubt we will still see plenty of the teenager both at left-back and left midfield.
There is of course another option left to be discussed. Liam Scales was signed late in the transfer window from Shamrock Rovers for less than £1 million. The Irishman stands at 6 ft 1 and has spent a large chunk of his career at centre half – the position many Celtic fans believed he would sport for the Bhoys. However, Scales has spent a considerable amount of time at Rovers at left-back. The former UCD defender has demonstrated the necessary pace and skill to be a modern full-back, with a considerable number of goal contributions which included two strikes in the Irish club’s recent Europa League qualifying campaign.
Scales may not have been the left-back option that many had in mind, but if he can make the step up, there’s no reason that the soon-to-be ROI international is not the answer for the Hoops. He’s athletic, skilful and could add some much needed height at set pieces.
Many may think that pushing a centre half to full-back is not a good idea. However, we will all remember how successful Hatem Elhamed was initially for Celtic. Although lockdown and homesickness ended his Celtic career prematurely, the Israeli made the transition from centre-half to full back pretty seamlessly. Hopefully under Ange’s tuition, Scales can bolster the full back area while adding a threat going forward.