Celtic should sign Timothy Castagne to solve right-back woes
It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for the reigning Scottish champions. A poor summer transfer window and injuries to key players throughout the course of the campaign have hindered their progress. Brendan Rodgers’ side sit first in the Scottish Premiership, however, thanks to their superior goal difference as they are level on points with arch-rivals Rangers.
The Hoops have managed to enter the Round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League and must look to progress further in the competition. They must also compete to retain their Scottish FA Cup trophy. Competing on multiple fronts with the current squad is going to be a problem for Rodgers and some new faces need to be brought through the doors in the ongoing transfer window.
A new striker and a centre-back should be at the top of the priority list for Celtic. But another position they need to strengthen is the right-back area. The Hoops’ first-choice defender in the position, Mikael Lustig, is in the final year of his contract with the club and has been linked with a move away.
Even if he does end up staying beyond the ongoing window or the summer, the 32-year-old Swede hasn’t been in the best form. His back-up Cristian Gamboa is also in the final year of his deal and has shown little signs of optimism. Meanwhile, academy graduate Anthony Ralston has somewhat faded after a bright breakthrough campaign.
That is why an upgrade in the position would do a world of good for the Scottish champions. And Castagne could prove to be the ideal solution in the long run for the Bhoys.
The 23-year-old right-back started his career with the youth academy of Belgian heavyweights Genk and made rapid strides through the youth setup. Eventually, he became a full-fledged member of the first-team by the time he was 18. Castagne went on to make 99 appearances for Genk, scoring four times and setting up five more goals before he was signed by Serie A outfit Atalanta in 2017.
Since moving to Italy, the Belgian has continued to enhance his burgeoning reputation. Castagne made 26 appearances in his debut campaign with the club, scoring once and setting up three more as Atalanta finished 7th in the Italian top-flight. He has featured 14 times in the 2018/19 term, scoring and assisting one goal apiece.
Reliable in defence and adventurous going forward, Castagne’s biggest asset is his ability to dribble the ball at pace. He backs it up with solid end product into the box – something which has been lacking in Lustig’s gameplay lately.
Moreover, the right-back has some degree of experience in the UEFA Europa League, having made it as far as the quarter-finals with Genk in 2016/17. He was also a part of Atalanta’s European campaign last term as well.
At 23, Castagne is bound to improve further. Given how he has performed so far with Genk and Atalanta, the two-time capped Belgian international would improve the Celtic squad greatly, provided they are able to sign him.
Celtic would strike gold by signing this 22-year-old Portuguese right-back to boost defensive depth
Celtic FC Opinion: Why Fernando Fonseca will be a good fit for the Hoops?
According to January’s report from the Scottish Sun, Celtic were interested in signing FC Porto right-back Fernando Fonseca.
The 22-year-old defender, who had a loan spell at Estoril last season, has made just three appearances for the Porto B side this term. As per O Jogo, Fernando Fonseca was close to joining Ukrainian outfit Zorya Luhansk but the move has collapsed, owing to a disagreement in negotiations.
As a result, the Portuguese right-back is set to stay put at Porto but could depart the club in the summer, with a move to Zorya Luhansk now apparently off.
That surely gives Celtic a second chance to swoop in for Fonseca and the Glasgow giants should do everything in their powers to sign him ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
The Hoops signed Jeremy Toljan on loan from Borussia Dortmund in January to compete with the ageing Mikael Lustig. Toljan had a fantastic start to his life at Parkhead but since the red card at Valencia in the Europa League, things have gone horribly wrong for the right-back.
Despite committing errors at the back, interim manager Neil Lennon has at least given Toljan a chance.
But the German has not really shown enough in recent weeks to cement his place in the starting XI Scottish champions. In fact, he looks a complete a misfit and shouldn’t be signed by Celtic permanently to replace Mikael Lustig.
Lustig is out of contract at the end of the season and will leave the Bhoys on a free. Celtic need to replace the Swede this summer, with the right-back position desperately requiring strengthening.
Toljan’s constant struggles mean the Scottish giants should move on from the on-loan star and make a concrete offer to Porto for signing Fernando Fonseca.
Fonseca fits the bill perfectly at Celtic—young, promising, dynamic and with a huge potential to develop as a player. He was close to joining Juventus last summer tells one the quality and potential he possesses. The 22-year-old hasn’t got a look in Porto’s first-team this season and will surely move on to kickstart his career elsewhere.
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A move to Celtic could give the young Portuguese a chance to get first-team football on a regular basis. The Hoops in return would get a long-term replacement for Lustig at right-back.
It’s important for Celtic to address the right-back position this summer as Lustig’s career at Parkhead will come to an end. Signing Fonseca, therefore, is a no-brainer for the Glasgow heavyweights.
Celtic would bag a massive coup by targeting any of these two defenders – including this talented 21-year-old Frenchman
Celtic FC Opinion: Two defenders the Hoops should target this summer?
Celtic are inching closer towards their eight successive Scottish Premiership title despite Brendan Rodgers leaving the fans stunned by joining Leicester City last month.
Neil Lennon has taken the reins of the club on an interim basis until the end of the campaign. The Hoops are enjoying a ten-point lead at the top of the table and if Lennon successfully manages to guide the club to the inevitable, he could certainly get the permanent keys of the club, once again.
Should Lennon get the job, he must look to build the team for the future and address some key areas of the squad in the summer transfer window. One of the important areas is the defence, which has failed to inspire this season.
Dedryck Boyata, arguably Celtic’s best defender, will certainly leave the club once his contract expires in the summer, while Filip Benkovic will return back to Leicester City at the end of the campaign.
That’ll leave the Hoops with Jozo Simunovic, Jack Hendry and Kristoffer Ajer—none of have been consistent and reliable at the back.
Hence, it’s crucial Celtic makes defensive reinforcements to compete for the title as well as make a mark in the Champions League. That said, here we look at the two central defenders the Glasgow giants should target in the summer.
1. Samir Memisevic (Groningen)
Samir Memisevic is enjoying an excellent season with Groningen, having been a regular fixture at the Dutch club’s backline. He has made 25 appearances in the Eredivisie, scoring three goals.
Strong in the air and powerful in the tackle, the Bosnian is a no-nonsense defender who’ll bring some much-needed feistiness and leadership qualities to the Celtic backline.
Memisevic likes to play it out from the back and is extremely comfortable on the ball, making him a perfect fit for Lennon’s Hoops.
2. Jean-Kevin Duverne (Lens)
Jean-Kevin Duverne earned rave reviews for his performances with Ligue 2 side RC Lens last season. But he ruptured ligament in his left knee in May last year and was out of action for close to nine months.
The Frenchman, 21, made his return on February and has played seven Ligue 2 games thus far. Duverne will take some time before he gets to his best and starts attracting attention from Europe’s elites.
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But before that happens, Celtic should quickly snap him up this summer. He fits the profile at the Parkhead; young, matured and talented with a sky-high potential.
Celtic would go a long way in solving their defensive conundrum by reviving interest in this powerful 22-year-old wall
Celtic Opinion: Hoops should reignite their interest in Scott McKenna
Back in January, a report from Belfast Live claimed that Celtic were set to reignite their interest in Aberdeen centre-back Scott Mckenna. However, a move to Parkhead failed to materialize for him and the youngster continued to impress at his current club.
McKenna has been a regular for Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership this season, making 22 appearances and helping his team achieve a wonderful defensive record. Aberdeen has conceded only 34 goals from 30 games, a feat that has only been bettered by four other sides in the division.
A youth product of Aberdeen, McKenna made his senior professional debut for his boyhood club in 2016 and spent time on loan at Ayr United and Alloa Athletic.
He gradually earned a significant role at his present club after his impressive performances on his loan spells and the 22-year-old has gone on to establish himself as a rock at the back for Aberdeen.
The Scottish international has made a total of 68 appearances for Aberdeen across all competitions, scoring on four occasions.
Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a towering amd well-built frame, Scott Mckenna is a physically dominating centre-half with good aerial ability.
Capable of outmuscling his offensive counterparts with his strength, McKenna is also very quick across the ground which helps him deal with fast and agile attackers as well.
The Scotsman possesses good game-reading ability- often staying on his feet to anticipate the opposition’s moves and cutting out attacks with interceptions, whilst also showing the commitment to throw his body on the line to block goal-bound shots.
Mckenna has also improved his passing significantly and has developed into a ball-playing centre-back, which should interest Celtic all the more.
To put things into perspective, Celtic might do themselves a world of good by reigniting their interest in the towering Aberdeen defensive wall. The fact that he is a home-grown talent should make the move all the more exciting for the Celtic fans.
The Hoops are well on their way to getting their hands on the Scottish Premiership title once again, with Neil Lennon’s side 8 points clear of Rangers at the top.
Former manager Brendan Rodgers signed the likes of
Dedryck Boyata is out of contract while Filip Benkovic is set to return Leicester City in the summer, which would leave a massive void at the heart of Celtic’s defence. Quite clearly, Lennon will need into the transfer window for a new centre-back and McKenna definitely fits the bill.
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The Scotsman is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the country and there is no reason why he cannot develop into a top-class player at Parkhead.
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