Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

It’s been quite the season for Anthony Ralston. 

From forgotten man to one of the first names on Ange Postecoglou’s team-sheet, the Celtic academy graduate was supposed to be little more than a stop-gap solution to the club’s right-back problems; a short-term stand-in until someone better arrived. 

But with Celtic conspiring to miss out on right-back after right-back during the summer transfer window, Ralston has been afforded a longer run in the side.

And to say he has seized such an opportunity would be an early contender for ‘understatement of the decade’. 

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Is Anthony Ralston Celtic’s most improved player?

Celtic called off negotiations to sign Valentin Rosier from Sporting Lisbon.

They missed out on Milan Van Ewijk, Yan Couto and Brandon Soppy too, and were also turned down by Sacha Boey, the 21-year-old Frenchman who opted for Galatasaray instead. 

But perhaps the most high-profile – and high-value – right-back to be linked with a summer switch to the green half of Glasgow was none other than George Baldock.  

According to The Star, Celtic were confident that they could lure Baldock away from Sheffield United.  

That was, however, until the Blades made it clear that bids under £8 million would not be considered. Celtic set their limit at £5 million and, after failing with a loan bid for the one-time Oxford United wideman, walked away from the table. 

Some four months’ later, however, the loss appears to be Baldock’s, rather than Celtic’s.  

Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images

Because while Ralston is testing his mettle against the likes of Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis in European compeition, a Sheffield United side who battered European champions Chelsea 3-0 as recently as 16 months ago are now 13th in England’s second tier.

Slavisa Jokanovic, the manager hired to guide them back to the Premier League, was sacked last week with Sheffield United closer to the relegation zone than they are to the play-off places. 

Ralston, meanwhile, is not only one of the first names on the team-sheet for an upwardly-mobile Celtic side, the most improved footballer in the land, he also cost the club absolutely nothing in transfer fees. 

“He’s doing unbelievably well,” Postecoglou told the Scottish Sun of a man who has played every single minute of all-but two Celtic games this season.

Sometimes, you don’t need to simply throw money at a problem. The solution may be right under your nose already.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

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