The new Scottish Premiership season is just four weeks away.
And while Celtic have more than enough high-quality goalkeepers, wingers, centre-forwards, attacking midfielders and right-backs to retain make a decent fist of retaining crown, the lack of natural, left-sided centre-halves at Parkhead with continue to haunt Ange Postecoglou’s dreams like Freddy Krueger in a particularly vicious mood.
In truth, the Hoops are not exactly overloaded with central defensive options – left-footed or otherwise. Assuming Christopher Jullien will leave – even if his proposed switch to Schalke fell through on Thursday – Postecoglou will only have Carl Starfelt, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Stephen Welsh at his disposal for July’s opening day clash against Aberdeen.
None of the aforementioned trio are left-footed either. And while Starfelt grew into the role during a rollercoaster debut season in Glasgow, the absence of natural, left-sided central defenders feels like a gaping hole in Celtic’s otherwise impressive roster.
Celtic need a left-footed centre-back
Hence why the Hoops showed an interest in Ahmed Touba (FootMercato).
The 24-year-old Algeria international was in the running for the Eredivisie’s Defender of the Year award in 2021. What’s more, he is exactly the kind of left-footed, ball-playing centre-half Postecoglou craves. The only problem is, as of Thursday afternoon, Touba is now an Istanbul Basaksehir player.
Touba is joining the 2020 Super Lig champions from RKC Waalwijk to the tune of £1.7 million.
That is a damn sight less than Liverpool will demand for Ben Davies, of course. But, having missed out on Touba and with left-sided centre-halves like hen’s teeth (just ask Tottenham Hotspur) Celtic will be increasingly determined to avoid a repeat of January 2021.
Celtic back in for Ben Davies
Davies, at the time, reportedly agreed a deal that would have seen him join Celtic from Preston North End on a free transfer some six months later. That was until Liverpool swooped in and offered the Barrow-born defender a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. One he was in no mood to miss out on.
Flash forward to July 2022. Davies now looks all-but certain to leave Anfield without ever making a first-team appearance under Jurgen Klopp. And, in a rather ironic twist of fate, the 26-year-old could finally be on his way to Glasgow.
According to the Liverpool Echo, Celtic have made contact again. Though it is not certain whether they are willing to meet Davies’ £4 million asking price.
£4 million is far more than Istanbul Basaksehir paid for Touba. It’s also a lot of money for a player Celtic so nearly got for free 18 months ago. But, with a title to defend and with Champions League football on the horizon, a cultured, commanding left-sided centre-back could be nothing short of priceless in the long and short term.