Why Celtic should eye a permanent deal for Diego Laxalt

According to claims from Milan News (h/t Daily Record), Celtic could try to use AC Milan’s interest in Kristoffer Ajer to secure a permanent deal for loanee Diego Laxalt. 

Ajer has long been on the radar of the Serie A giants while Hoops boss Neil Lennon has already hinted that he would like to keep Laxalt for the long term after the Uruguayan’s impressive start to life at Parkhead. (h/t Daily Record)

Profile

Diego Laxalt rose through the youth system of Defensor Sporting in his native Uruguay before moving to Europe with Inter Milan in 2013. However, he never made a competitive appearance for the Nerazzurri and spent time on loan at Bologna, Empoli and Genoa in the Serie A, joining the latter permanently in 2016. 

hibernian v celtic ladbrokes scottish premiership scaled
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 21: Diego Laxalt of Celtic controls the ball during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Celtic at Easter Road on November 21, 2020, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The 27-year-old clocked up a total of 117 appearances for Genoa in all competitions, registering 8 goals and 11 assists in the process. He was subsequently snapped up by domestic heavyweights AC Milan in 2018 but fell out of favour at the San Siro after featuring as a key squad player in his first season. 

Laxalt had a decent loan spell at Torino in the previous campaign before joining Celtic on a temporary deal this past summer. The versatile star has enjoyed a fine start to life in Glasgow, featuring 10 times in all competitions so far, and recently scored his first goal for the Hoops to earn his club a 2-2 draw against Hibernian last weekend. (h/t Transfermarkt)

A full international for Uruguay since 2017, Laxalt has earned 24 caps for his nation so far, representing them at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Copa America. 

Laxalt would offer Celtic long-term stability on the left

Greg Taylor featured prominently at left-back and left wing-back in August and September, starting 8 out of Celtic’s 9 opening league fixtures following the departure of Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo on loan to Istanbul Basaksehir. The Scottish international put in a string of reliable displays earlier in the campaign but hasn’t had a game since the arrival of Diego Laxalt on loan from AC Milan. 

Laxalt has made an instant impact at Parkhead, usurping Taylor in the pecking order to establish himself as one of the first names on Neil Lennon’s teamsheet. The 27-year-old has proven himself to be a fantastic addition to the squad with his versatility and work-rate at both ends of the pitch. 

hibernian v celtic ladbrokes scottish premiership 1 scaled
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 21: Martin Boyle of Hibernian FC is challenged by Diego Laxalt of Celtic during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and Celtic at Easter Road on November 21, 2020, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Despite not being an out-and-out left-back by trade, Laxalt has exceeded all expectations operating in that role at Celtic. The Hoops have had their fair share of struggles at the back so far this season, but the Uruguayan has held his own more often than not. 

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Verdict

Suffice to say, Laxalt is still very much in his early days as a loanee at Celtic but has already inspired enough confidence with his performances to warrant a permanent transfer. With Bolingoli-Mbombo no longer in Lennon’s plans, the Hoops should definitely look at the 27-year-old as a long-term solution on the left-hand side of the pitch. 

The Uruguayan fits the bill as a tried and tested performer at the highest level in Europe and Celtic would surely benefit from having him as a permanent fixture in their ranks moving forward. Laxalt might not be the cheapest option for the reigning Scottish champions but with several years still remaining in his prime, the Hoops shouldn’t shy away from meeting Milan’s financial demands.

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