Why Celtic signing Rekeem Harper on loan would bolster their midfield
The Hoops are understood to be long-standing admirers of the 20-year-old enforcer. Harper had been linked with a move to Parkhead in 2019 after Neil Lennon scouted him in person but he opted to stay put in West Midlands after signing a new contract. (h/t Scottish Sun)
However, Harper has emerged on Celtic’s radar once again ahead of the January window. The highly-rated youngster is expected to seek a departure next month after failing to make a senior competitive appearance for the Baggies this season so far.
Born in Birmingham, Rekeem Harper joined West Brom’s youth system at the age of 12 and went on to represent the Baggies at U-18 and U-23 levels. He eventually made his first-team debut as a substitute against Bournemouth in August 2017, becoming the second player born in the 2000s to play in the Premier League.
Harper scored once in 17 league appearances in the second-tier in the following campaign as West Brom were beaten in the playoffs. He signed a new three-year deal after that but struggled to establish himself as a key player under former manager Slaven Bilic. The midfielder started just 4 games in the Championship last season, featuring sporadically as the Baggies secured automatic promotion.
The 20-year-old hasn’t been anywhere close to West Brom’s first-team in the ongoing campaign, featuring largely for the club’s U-23 side at the Premier League 2 level.
Harper would add more variety to the Celtic midfield
Celtic aren’t really short of cover in the central midfield department, with plenty of players vying for places in the ranks at Parkhead. Lennon has rotated between Ryan Christie, David Turnbull and Tom Rogic in the No.10 role behind the striker, leaving Callum McGregor and Scott Brown to shoulder the responsibilities of operating in the double pivot.
McGregor has continued to excel as a regular starter week in week out for the Hoops but Brown has often struggled for consistency this season. Soro has made a positive impression in recent fixtures, with Lennon handing the youngster a taste of senior football to offer the veteran a breather. Considering that Olivier Ntcham has fared well below expectations this term, Celtic shouldn’t hesitate to freshen up their midfield options in January.
Putting things into context, Rekeem Harper ticks plenty of boxes to come through the door as an exciting addition to Celtic’s midfield. The energetic and hardworking box-to-box enforcer would add some much-needed young blood to the squad while offering Lennon more depth and quality to work with heading into the crucial second half of the campaign.
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Despite his lack of game time at West Brom, Rekeem Harper remains a quality young player with plenty of room for development. With fixtures set to come thick and fast in the following months, Celtic’s squad depth will surely be tested.
The inclusion of a talented starlet like Harper would be a smart piece of business in the winter market. Having said that, this looks like a deal that could work out well for all parties involved.