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Celtic raiding Chelsea to sign this 24-year-old wall would be the ideal solution to strengthening their backline

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Celtic Opinion: Fikayo Tomori would be a wonderful signing for the Hoops

According to the Daily Record, Celtic are weighing up a move for Chelsea centre-back Fikayo Tomori, who is currently on loan at Derby County in the Championship.

The Daily Record understands that Tomori’s consistently impressive performances in the Championship have impressed Celtic and the Hoops want to bring him to Parkhead this summer, although it is still unclear whether they want a loan agreement or a permanent deal for the youngster.

Tomori has been one of the architects of Derby County’s successful season in the Championship this term, playing a key role in the Rams surge to the finals of the playoffs.

The 21-year-old has been an ever-present for Frank Lampard’s side at the heart of the defence alongside Richard Keogh, making a total of 54 appearances for the Rams in all competitions this season.

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The Canada-born centre-back has earned rave reviews for his incredible performances at Pride Park and Daily Record claims that Derby are keen to turn his loan deal into a permanent move.

That, however, would solely depend on whether or not they manage to make it to the Premier League by beating Aston Villa in the playoff final at Wembley.

Born in Calgary, Canada, to parents of Nigerian descent, Tomori moved to England at a very young age and rose through the youth ranks at Chelsea before making his Premier League debut for the Blues against Leicester City in the 2015-16 season.

However, that remains his only appearance for Chelsea till date and he has been farmed out to Brighton, Hull City and Derby County over the past three seasons.

Standing at 6ft. 1 inch with a stocky frame, Tomori cannot be classified as a towering or a gigantic centre-back but he has impressed a lot with his wonderful tackling skills and sound game-reading ability.

An aggressive defender by nature, Tomori has gradually learnt to use that aspect of his game to his advantage, showing plenty of maturity in terms of composure and decision-making.

To add to that, Tomori is also blessed with the ball-playing qualities of a modern-day centre-back, which not only allows him to be comfortable in possession but also play it out from the back and switch the play with long balls.

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Despite not being the tallest of centre-backs, Tomori knows how to use his physicality to outmuscle the opposition and win headers inside the box. The 21-year-old averaged 2.2 tackles, 1.5 interceptions, 3.9 clearances and 2.8 aerial duels per game in the Championship, whilst also boasting of a pass accuracy rate of 82.7.

The youngster has progressed by leaps and bounds on his loan spell at Derby and it would be fair to say that he is ready to play a part in Chelsea’s first-team.

However, it is unlikely that he would get a serious look in at Stamford Bridge next season, with the likes of David Luiz, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger performing at the peak of their powers.

To put things into perspective, Celtic could possibly strike gold by securing the services of Fikayo Tomori in the summer, although the Hoops might need to break the bank if they are really considering a permanent deal for the youngster.

Neil Lennon needs to start looking at potential defensive reinforcements ahead of the summer transfer window, with Dedryck Boyata out of contract and Filip Benkovic still unsure whether to return to Leicester or stay on loan at Parkhead for another season.

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Norwegian centre-back Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic have done reasonably well but one cannot help but feel that Celtic need at least another defender in their ranks to maintain the perfect balance.

Celtic lost 2-0 to Rangers in the Old Firm derby last Sunday but the Hoops are on the verge of claiming their 8th straight domestic title, while a victory over Hearts in the Scottish Cup final towards the end of the month would see them bag a third successive domestic treble.

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However, the Hoops should be open to investing in talented youngsters and Fikayo Tomori is certainly a player with a mountain of potential. To conclude, Celtic could have a gem in their hands if they manage to strike a deal for the 21-year-old English youth international this summer.

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Celtic

Rangers 0-2 Celtic: 3 talking points from the Old Firm Derby as Gerrard’s tactics failed miserably

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Rangers 0-2 Celtic: 3 talking points from the Old Firm Derby

Celtic completely outclassed Rangers 2-0 at Ibrox in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday as Odsonne Edouard’s opener in the first half and a second from substitute Jonny Hayes in injury-time ensured that the Hoops strengthened their position at the top of the table. 

Having secured qualification to the group stages of the Europa League with impressive victories in the playoffs, both the Old Firm rivals went into the game on Sunday brimming with confidence, but it was Celtic who laid down an early title marker in the first derby of the season. 

Steven Gerrard opted to leave Europa League playoff hero Alfredo Morelos on the bench, with Jerman Defoe getting the nod as the No.9 in the derby. Additionally, the Gers went in with a very narrow and compact 4-3-3 system, flooding the central areas with more players at the expense of some genuine width. 

Neil Lennon, on the other hand, brought in Hatem Abd Elhamed in place of the injured Kristoffer Ajer at right-back, with Celtic fielding a completely new look backline in the derby as compared to the previous campaign. 

It wasn’t the most aesthetic game that you would ever see and after an opening half-hour where chances were few and far between, Mikey Johnstone outsmarted Conor Goldson to set it up for Odsonne Edouard, who scored his fifth goal against Rangers to put the Hoops 1-0 up.

To say that Rangers were below-par for almost the entirety of the game would not be an understatement, as the Gers failed to muster any sort of a meaningful reply after conceding that goal. Substitutes Sheyi Ojo and Morelos somewhat improved them in the second half but it was never going to be enough to break Celtic down.

Jonny Hayes took his chance really well in the third minute of injury time before the game ended, with Jordan Jones receiving a straight card for a cynical hack on Moritz Bauer. Here are 3 key talking points from the Old Firm derby.

1. Edouard made the difference again

Odsonne Edouard’s opener at Ibrox on Sunday was the Frenchman’s fifth goal against the Gers and the second time that he scored the winner on enemy territory.

The Frenchman wasn’t always in the game but he contributed a lot with his clever touches and smart hold-up play, gratefully accepting the only clear-cut chance the fell to him in the game.

Edouard’s winner at Ibrox was reminiscent of the big-game specialism that Moussa Dembele used to showcase during his illustrious spell at Celtic and his latest goal would definitely have raised his stocks amongst the fans. 

2. Steven Gerrard’s tactical blunder and lack of energy from Rangers

Rangers’ approach to the game resembled a funnel, as Gerrard compromised some genuine width to flood the central areas of the pitch with a view to blocking the passing lanes and frustrating Celtic. 

One would have expected Gerrard to field some out-and-out pacey wingers to capitalise on Celtic’s rather unsettled backline but neither Scott Arfield nor Joe Aribo did enough to put the defenders under any real pressure. 

Defoe was largely anonymous due to a lack of supply and while substitutes Ojo and Morelos breathed life into the game, Rangers apparently never had the energy to press Celtic off the ball and get themselves back into the game. 

James Tavernier and Glen Kamara, who are usually very influential in their respective roles, looked completely off the pace, ineffective and lethargic, whilst centre-back Goldson came up with one of his worst ever performances for the Gers.

It was a combination of tired legs after a hard-fought playoff victory in the Europa League playoffs and some poor reading of the game by Gerrard that led to Rangers’ downfall on Sunday. 

3. Celtic’s backline rose to the occasion very well

The back four consisting of Elhamed, Christopher Jullien, Nir Bitton and Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo exceeded all expectations and while Rangers played it into their hands to some extent with some poor tactical nous and below-par attacking play, the Celtic defenders deserve all the credit for a well-earned clean sheet.

Apart from Bitton, the other three defenders at the back had their first taste of the derby atmosphere this Sunday and Neil Lennon would have been happy to see them rise to the occasion and deliver the goods when it mattered the most.

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[Image] Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic FC XI to face AIK in the Europe League playoffs – can the Hoops secure the win?

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Predicted 4-3-3 Celtic FC XI to face AIK in the Europe League playoffs

Celtic FC romped home to a comfortable 3-1 victory over Hearts at home in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday as Callum McGregor’s strike in the second half sandwiched by own goals from Christophe Berra and Craig Halkett ensured that the Hoops preserved their perfect start to the campaign. 

Celtic’s Champions League aspirations came to an end with a 5-4 aggregate defeat against Romanian giants Cluj in the third qualifying round but they have a chance to make it to the group stages of the Europa League after beating Swedish outfit AIK 2-0 away from home last week. 

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Neil Lennon’s side will be the clear favourites to make it through to the group stages, as they carry a two-goal lead to Sweden on Thursday night. 

Team News

Neil Lennon is expected to make a few changes to the eleven that played against Hearts on Sunday, with the Old Firm derby against Rangers in the waiting too. 

Celtic travel to Sweden with a few injury concerns, as Hatem Abd Elhamed, Scott Bain and Tom Rogic are expected to miss the trip. However, the manager is likely to have most of the first-team players at his disposal for selection.

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Predicted Celtic XI

Formation: 4-3-3

Fraser Forster (GK)

The towering shot-stopper was catapulted into the starting eleven against Hearts upon his return to Parkhead and he is expected to start ahead of Craig Gordon between the sticks.

Kristoffer Ajer (RB)

The Norwegian has been a real revelation at right-back in recent games and he is likely to continue in that role on Thursday. 

Christopher Jullien (CB)

The Frenchman has proven himself to be worthy of every penny for the Hoops so far this season and there is no reason why he should be left out of the away leg despite the Old Firm derby around the corner. 

Jozo Simunovic (CB)

Nir Bitton started at the back on Sunday against Hearts but the Croatian is expected to get the nod after a calm and composed display in the 2-0 first-leg victory.  

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Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LB)

The new signing excelled with his pace, energy and link-up play down the flanks in the first leg and he is expected to be handed another start on Thursday. 

Scott Brown (CM)

The veteran is usually the one who controls the game for Celtic in the middle of the park and his experience might prove to be a deciding factor in the all-important clash.

James Forrest (RAM)

One of Celtic’s most influential players over the past few years, the Scottish international is the club’s indispensable weapon down the flanks and he will be in high spirits after scoring in the 2-0 victory in the first leg. 

Callum McGregor (LAM)

The homegrown star was one of the standout performers against the Swedish opposition last week and he is expected to be one of the first names on the teamsheet this time around as well.

Ryan Christie (RW)

The attacking midfielder tormented the Swedes with his tireless running, energy and creativity in the first leg and he definitely deserves another start. 

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Mikey Johnstone (LW)

The youngster has produced some dazzling displays early in the campaign and he was virtually unplayable against AIK last week.

Odsonne Edouard (ST)

Vakoun Issouf Bayo started against Hearts but Celtic’s first-choice No.9 should be back in the starting eleven on Thursday.

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Griffiths and Bayo to lead the line? Predicted 3-4-1-2 Celtic XI to face Dunfermline Athletic in the Betfred Cup

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Celtic FC vs Dunfermline Athletic prediction: Celtic FC line-up

Celtic will host Dunfermline Athletic in the Betfred Cup on Saturday after a shock defeat at the hands of Romanian outfit CFR Cluj saw their Champions League dreams come to an end.

It’s been a difficult couple of days to get through so far but the Hoops have to bounce back with a convincing victory over Dunfermline Athletic to change the mood.

Neil Lennon could ring the changes for the weekend’s Betfred Cup tie.

Team News

Goalkeeper Scott Bain picked up a hand injury during the loss against Cluj but finished the game. However, he has now been ruled out for upto two months.

Probable Celtic XI

Formation: 3-4-1-2

Manager: Neil Lennon

Craig Gordon (GK)

With Bain out injured, Gordon naturally comes back in goal for Saturday’s game.

Christopher Jullien (RCB)

Jullien, surprisingly, didn’t start in the embarrassing loss to Cluj. However, he is expected to come back into Lennon’s starting XI.

Nir Bitton (CB)

Like Jullien, Bitton was an unused substitute in the last game. With the Europa League play-off game against AIK coming up, Lennon could freshen things up by handing Bitton a start.

Kristoffer Ajer (LCB)

Ajer struggled against Cluj’s attackers on Tuesday but Lennon is expected to stick with the towering Norwegian.

Anthony Ralston (RWB)

With Hatem Abd Elhamed yet to fully get into the grips of the Scottish league, the Celtic boss could hand an opportunity to Anthony Ralston on the right.

Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo (LWB)

Bolingoli has looked unconvincing at the back following his summer move from Austria Vienna. But he could be handed a chance to impress at left wing-back against Dunfermline.

Scott Brown (CM)

Celtic’s leader on and off the pitch, Brown continues to play every game for the club under Lennon, and should start.

Olivier Ntcham (CM)

Though the partnership Ntcham and Brown didn’t work out against Cluj, Lennon could go with the same pair on Saturday.

Ryan Christie (CAM)

Christie will add creativity and a punch of guile to the team. He will be raring to get on the score-sheet again.

Leigh Griffiths (LS)

With the Europa League game against AIK on the horizon, Lennon could freshen up his attack by bringing in Griffiths in place of Edouard.

Vakoun Issouf Bayo (RS)

Vakoun Issouf Bayo has struggled with fitness since joining the club in January. However, Lennon should give the pacey Ivorian a proper outing at home in the Betfred Cup game.

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