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Celtic signing their $4m target from the summer would be a great move to bolster the backline

REUNION, FLORIDA - JULY 30: Alan Pulido #9 of Sporting Kansas City fights for the ball with Mark McKenzie #4 of Philadelphia Union during a quarter final match of MLS Is Back Tournament between Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 30, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Why Celtic should try to sign Mark McKenzie once again in January

According to claims from United States journalist Kristian Dyer on Twitter, Celtic had a bid of $3million, rising to $4million with incentives, rejected by Philadelphia Union for highly-rated centre-back Mark McKenzie back in October. 

McKenzie ended up staying put at Philadelphia and has continued to enhance his reputation as one of the best young central defenders in the Major League Soccer. 

Profile

A youth exponent of the Philadelphia Union Academy, Mark McKenzie played amateur football for Wake Forest Demon Deacons and Bethlehem Steel before making his MLS debut for Philadelphia during the 2018 season. He was nominated for the MLS Rookie of the Year award as a result of his impressive performances in his breakthrough campaign.

McKenzie has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months, establishing himself as an integral part of Philadephia’s backline. The 21-year-old has racked up 59 appearances for his club in all competitions, while he has also represented the United States at U-18, U-20 and U-23 levels. He made his senior international debut in a friendly against Costa Rica back in February. 

CHESTER, PA – AUGUST 25: Daniel Royer #77 of New York Red Bulls tries to get past Jamiro Monteiro #10 and Mark McKenzie #4 of Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on August 25, 2020, in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

McKenzie would offer the Hoops a long-term solution at the back

Celtic roped in Shane Duffy on a season-long loan deal from Brighton in the summer to add more depth and quality to their centre-back ranks. The Irishman made a real impact during his first few weeks at Parkhead but has come under some serious scrutiny for a string of casual errors at the back in recent times. 

That coupled with Kristoffer Ajer’s lacklustre form and Christopher Jullien’s injury has given manager Neil Lennon plenty of food for thought ahead of the January window. Jullien recently returned to action after a long layoff but with Nir Bitton also struggling for consistency, a new centre-back should definitely be high on Celtic’s agenda. 

The Hoops have conceded 21 goals in their last 9 games across all competitions, which pretty much sums up the sorry state of the club’s defensive unit. 

CHESTER, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Gonzalo Higuain #9 of Inter Miami CF controls the ball against Mark McKenzie #4 of Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on September 27, 2020, in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

To put things into perspective, Celtic should definitely make a renewed attempt to sign Mark McKenzie when the transfer window reopens in January. The United States international has proven himself to be a cut above the rest in his homeland and still has his best years ahead of him at 21. 

Verdict

Suffice to say, Celtic need to look for a long-term solution at the back, with Duffy set to return to Brighton at the end of the season. 

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Having said that, the reigning Scottish champions should ideally look to groom a talented young centre-back with one eye on the future, thus making Mark McKenzie a lucrative option for the club in the winter market.

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game.

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