Celtic Opinion: Nathan Gassama would be a good long-term investment for the Hoops
Celtic are not the only club to have registered an interest in the highly-rated 18-year-old, however, with The Scottish Sun claiming that the teenager has also been tracked by an array of Premier League clubs, including Southampton, Chelsea and Watford.
Gassama is not the only centre-back to have been linked with a move to Parkhead, though, with The Scottish Sun also breaking the news of Celtic’s interest in Toulouse centre-back Christopher Jullien.
The 18-year-old academy product is yet to make his senior professional bow hor his boyhood club but he has excelled for the youth and reserve sides, with his talent and potential seemingly attracting interest from across the continent. Gassama has already been tipped to be the future of France’s backline at the international level, although he is still very much an unknown entity in Europe.
The talented teenager has two years remaining on his current contract at Nantes and reports claim that he is being considered for a first-team role in the upcoming season, However, with so many English clubs, and now, Celtic weighing up deals for him, a move across the channel looks likely to materialize for the 18-year-old.
Standing at 6ft. 3 inches with a towering frame, Nathan Gassama has showcased commendable levels of physicality at the youth level, whilst also making a name for himself with his aerial prowess and ball-playing attributes.
He is yet to represent France at the youth level but he is still very much in the developmental phase of his career and one would expect him to carve out a massive reputation for himself on all fronts in the years to follow.
To put things into perspective, Nathan Gassama is still very young and raw but his links with clubs like Chelsea and Southampton is a clear testament to his talent and potential. Celtic need to bring in some quality reinforcements at the back this summer, and while the 18-year-old might not be considered for an immediate first-team role at Parkhead next term, the Hoops could have a gem on their hands if he goes on to fulfil his promise in the coming days.
The departure of Dedryck Boyata to Hertha Berlin on a free transfer has left Celtic short of cover at the back and it is unlikely that Leicester City would allow Filip Benkovic to return for a second successive loan spell at Parkhead, particularly with Brendan Rodgers now in charge of the Foxes.
Hence, as things stand, Celtic have only Jozo Simunovic and Norwegian starlet Kristoffer Ajer as senior options in central defence and it won’t be a good idea for Neil Lennon to set his sights on the upcoming campaign with just two centre-backs. Celtic will be under pressure to make it nine-in-a-row over arch-rivals Rangers in the Scottish Premiership next term and lack of cover at the back could come back to haunt them.
While a tried and tested centre-back would make a like-for-like replacement for Boyata, it won’t be a bad idea for Celtic to bring in a young and promising defender like Nathan Gassama, with a view to grooming him for the future. In all probability, the 18-year-old would go into the development squad at Parkhead but he could be set for a bit-part role in the first-team if he manages to impress Lennon during the pre-season friendlies.
A proven centre-back would fit the bill better, but if the Hoops have scouted Gassama extensively and are convinced with what they have seen of him, they should not hesitate to go forward with the deal.
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They would probably need to sign another centre-back irrespective of whether they invest in the 18-year-old but, as we all know, young players are always crucial to a club’s long-term success, and the acquisition of Gassama would definitely be a strong statement of intent from Celtic.