The summer transfer window started with Celtic fretting about the future of a number of key players. It ended, however, with Neil Lennon’s side arguably stronger than before.
Thanks to a series of inspired additions, from Christopher Jullien to Jeremie Frimpong, Mohamed Elyounoussi to Greg Taylor, The Hoops now have a range of options in pretty much every single position.
They’ve gone from no right-backs to three while Taylor and Boli Bolingoli are fighting for a single place on the opposite flank. And it speaks volumes about the depth of Celtic’s squad that Tom Rogic, Leigh Griffiths and Scott Sinclair are far from guaranteed starters these days.
But there is one key position where Celtic are still lacking. Try as they might, they still cannot find a way to thrive over a prolonged period without Scott Brown sitting just in front of the defence. And, when you consider that Brown is 34 these days and seemingly no longer capable of dominating a game against high level opposition, that is a problem.
Callum McGregor has impressed in a deeper role at times but he is far more effective as one of two number eights either side of a number six while Kouassi Eboue is a million miles down the pecking order these days.
So reports from The Sun suggesting that Ecuadorian enforcer Jose Cifuentes is still a target, despite Celtic’s inability to get a deal over the line during the summer, suggests that it’s not just the fans worried about life after Brown.
Cifuentes, who admitted to Football Scotland three months ago that he was ‘aware’ of interest from the champions, may be a raw, unpolished talent at just 20 but he has the energy and technical ability required to one day step into Brown’s shoes.
Watford are interested these days too with Cifuentes apparently valued at around £2.5 million – though that fee could rise after he forced his way into the Ecuadorian national team.
But whatever Cifuentes is valued at these days, Celtic are fully aware that finding a replacement for Brown is absolutely priceless.
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