Brendan Rodgers made it his ambition this season for Celtic to still be in European football after Christmas.
And though the Scottish champions’ hopes of reaching the knockout round of the Champions League was ended after just four of six group stage games, Celtic are well placed to qualify for a place in the Europa League as they sit three points clear of point-less Anderlecht.
Rodgers, then, is close to achieving one of his aims for the New Year. And the Scottish Sun reports that another objective on his to-do list is to find ‘available and affordable’ players who could improve Celtic’s squad – with a new centre-back his top priority.
The Hoops’ backline has been stretched this season thanks to injuries to Erik Sviatchenko, Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic – meaning midfielder Nir Bitton (below) was once again fielded in the defence during last week’s 2-1 home defeat to Bayern Munich.
Though if Rodgers wants quality, experience and affordability, there are a few players out there who fit the bill. Porto centre-half Ivan Marcano for one.
The 30-year-old Spaniard is out of contract in the summer and may just be available on a cut-price deal in the January window. And Marcano would not only offer depth but vital European experience too to Celtic’s backline.
Marcano, who was the subject of a late summer bid from Everton according to The Mail, has made 22 Champions League appearances for Porto, Olympiakos and Rubin Kazan. He has the nous and the big-game familiarity, then, that so few of Celtic’s squad possess.
An excellent passer of the ball, too, Marcano should have no problems fitting into Rodgers' philosophy. In many ways, Marcano ticks all the boxes.