Photo by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Vasilis Barkas will be an inspired signing for Celtic once his £4.5 million move from AEK Athens is completed, former Greece coach Stelios Giannakopoulos has told the Daily Record.

While links with Freddie Woodman, David Marshall and Vaclav Hladky have come to nothing, it seems that the Scottish Premiership champions have reached a breakthrough in their pursuit of a new number one.

The Sun reports that Barkas will travel to Glasgow this week as he closes in on a deal which will see him replace Fraser Forster between the sticks in Neil Lennon’s starting XI.

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A ten-time Greece international, Barkas is not only blessed with fine reflexes but also plenty of quality with the ball at his feet, an attribute which should only benefit a Celtic side who tend to monopolise possession and build from the back.

And, two years after helping AEK win the Super Lig title for the first time in 24 years, a man who knows the Dutch-born shot-stopper better than most is tipping him for more success in Scotland.

“I can tell the Celtic fans that Vasilis is very good and I know from experience because we worked together in the national team,” says former Bolton winger Stelios, who was part of the Greek coaching set-up in 2019.

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“Vasilis has everything you want from a goalkeeper – a physical presence, big in front of goal, he can catch the ball in the air and good technical ability which you need in modern football to build from the back.

“He is very clever and can read the game well so he guides the team from the back and he has a personality on the field and in the dressing room.

“The other thing is that he is young for a goalkeeper but at the same time he has good experience in the game and he can express himself.

“Vasilis is now getting what he deserves for his form and hard work and it’s a great opportunity to prove himself abroad in a huge club like Celtic.”

Barkas will arrive amid big expectations but he has already proven himself on the biggest stage, producing a goalkeeping masterclass as AEK knocked Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic out of the Champions League in the qualification stage two years ago.

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