Celtic Opinion: Hoops should beat Rangers to sign Uche Ikpeazu from Hearts
According to the Sun, Celtic are set to battle it out with Old Firm rivals Rangers for the signature of Hearts forward Uche Ikpeazu in the summer, with Premier League strugglers Cardiff City and Championship outfit Hull City also keen on securing his services.
A product of Reading’s youth system, Ikpeazu joined Watford in 2013 but he failed to make the grade at Vicarage Road, spending time on loan at lower division clubs like Crewe Alexandra, Port Vale, Doncaster Rovers and Blackpool before joining Cambridge United on a permanent deal in 2016.
The Harrow-born striker scored 22 goals in 80 appearances for Cambridge before joining Hearts on a free transfer last summer.
The 24-year-old has managed to replicate his wonderful form in the English fourth tier across the border in the Scottish Premiership, contributing with 5 goals and 4 assists from 19 appearances in all competitions. He has struggled with a foot injury in his debut season in Scotland but has already attracted attention from the big guns.
Meanwhile, Celtic managed to get the better of archrivals Rangers 2-1 in the Old Firm derby, which was sweet revenge after losing out 1-0 to the Gers back in December. It has been a successful season for the Hoops but they would need to dip into the transfer window in the summer in a bid to reshape their squad.
While replacements for the centre-back duo of Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic and right-back Mikael Lustig remain high on Celtic’s wishlist for the summer, the Hoops should also look to add a few fresh faces to bolster their attack.
Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah are only on loan from West Brom and PSG and acquiring the services of either of them permanently apparently seems to be beyond Celtic’s financial capability.
To put things into perspective, s strong and powerful striker like Uche Ikpeazu wouldn’t be a bad option for Lennon to provide cover and competition for Odsonne Edouard up front.
Leigh Griffiths has been out of the picture since December while January signing Vakoun Issouf Bayo is set to establish himself in the first-team scheme of things.
Standing at 6ft.3 inches with a burly and well-built frame, Ikpeazu is a powerful centre-forward whose key attributes are his strength and aerial ability. He has the ability to outmuscle his defensive counterparts with his physicality and power, whilst his aerial prowess makes him a potent threat inside the box from crosses and set-pieces.
He is quite fast and agile for a striker of his stature and has a knack of getting into the right areas to put away chances. Furthermore, the 24-year-old often uses his strength to shield the ball with his back to goal, allowing others to get into the game with good hold-up play.
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Ikpeazu is still untested at the highest level but his successful debut season at Hearts should prompt the Hoops to lure him to Parkhead in the summer. Celtic should still be aiming for better players to make an impact in Europe but Uche Ikpeazu can prove to be a useful back up for Odsonne Edouard next season.