Celtic may be enjoying the sun in Dubai during their winter break, but it’s no time for Brendan Rodgers to be resting as he plots the way to a potential unbeaten domestic season.
The Hoops haven’t lost in the league or the domestic cups so far this season and you’d be hard pushed to back against them continuing that form between now and the end of the season.
But there’s still room for improvement – and Rodgers will be trying to figure out how he does that.
The January transfer window will offer him the chance to strengthen his squad moving into the second half of the campaign and he’s already on the verge of adding midfielder Kouassi Eboue to the ranks.
Yet who else could follow and help improve Celtic? We look at five players who could do just that:
Craig Gordon is the current number one, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be the long term option for Brendan Rodgers. The Celtic manager was quick to bring in Dorus de Vries after arriving at the club in the summer and, despite the Dutchman’s early struggles, that suggests he’s not too convinced with Gordon. So if Celtic go looking for another stopper you’d have to think they’d need to fit Rodgers’ requirements – and using their feet is a must. West Ham goalkeeper Adrian looks set to leave the club with his contract winding down to expiration at the end of the season – so why not an early deal to get him to Celtic Park as Rodgers’ number one? He knows British football, can play out from the back as Rodgers wants and is available.
Jon Flanagan isn’t technically available because he’s on a season-long loan at Burnley, but some reports have cast that move in doubt and said that Liverpool could recall the full-back early. It’s still early in January and that could happen, especially if Burnley boss Sean Dyche continues to keep the Anfield favourite on the bench. He’s made just six appearances since joining the Clarets in the summer and may decide his future lies elsewhere. With the ever dependable Nathaniel Clyne at right back at Liverpool, it’s unlikely his future is there. And it may make sense for Celtic go after him as Rodgers looks to sort a position he’s potentially unconvinced with as well. Mikal Lustig has been the man playing there, but Cristian Gamboa was signed as what appeared to be a replacement. But neither are particularly convincing and a signing like Flanagan could appeal to Rodgers – who handed the Englishman regular games during his time at Liverpool.
Celtic have already been linked Henri Lansbury – and Rodgers’ comments about the player during his time as manager at Swansea make it clear he’s a fan. Kouassi Eboue is on the way in and, by the sounds of it, could be the long term replacement for Scott Brown. But if Rodgers wants to add more attacking quality to his midfield then Nottingham Forest midfielder Lansbury could be the right fit. What goes against the move is the emergence of Stuart Armstrong, who could be playing for Celtic for the next eight years at least if he can continue his impressive latest form.
Indulge us here, but would Ryan Gauld to Celtic not be a perfect move for the Scottish midfielder? He finds himself back in the Sporting Lisbon B team after spending some successful time out on loan with Vitoria Setubal. Gauld has found top team opportunities hard to come by at Sporting, but there’s no doubting he’s good enough for Scotland – and the spell in Portugal will have helped his development since his Dundee United days. Patrick Roberts will leave Celtic in the summer so Gauld could be the perfect replacement for him.
Like Lansbury, Jonny Hayes is another who Rodgers has publicly shown his admiration for. The Celtic manager has admitted that he thought about taking Hayes to Swansea years ago and was seen after his side’s latest win over Aberdeen making a beeline for Hayes to have a catch up. Kieran Tierney is Celtic’s first-choice left back and Scott Sinclair is the first-choice left winger, but Hayes could provide cover for both that Emilio Izaguirre and perhaps some other wide men cannot. The Irishman wouldn’t cost much, knows the league well and, most importantly, he’s talented and could add something different to Celtic.
Who would you sign in January? Let us know in the comments below..
YOU’LL LOVE OUR PODCAST
In this week’s show, Daniel is joined by talkingbaws.com team members Jonny Boyle, Connor Boylan and Scott MacArthur as they bring you a Mc25 special.
We released our list of the top 25 players in Scotland over 2016 on Monday and followed it up with this comprehensive podcast to discuss who we selected, where we selected them and why we selected them: