Celtic sit top of the Scottish Premiership and third in Champions League Group B. If they are in the same situation come 2018, they will have enjoyed a highly satisfying first half to the 2017/18 campaign. But there will still be room to strengthen.
The transfer window may not yet be open, but that won’t prevent the Bhoys from preparing for the January window. They will undoubtedly already be casting an eye over possible targets and lining up moves for potential new recruits.
Brendan Rodgers will be aware of the strong start made by Aberdeen and the slight improvements seen at Rangers. He will also understand the implications of staying in Europe beyond Christmas. He will want to reinforce his squad to ensure it is fully prepared for a title race and, perhaps, a Europa League run.
With that in mind, here Football Whispers take a look at five players Celtic should target in January.
Rodgers has experimented tactically this season, switching from three- to four-man defensive lines depending on the situation and the opponent. However, in either shape it could be argued that another left-back is needed.
Kieran Tierney is an outstanding left-back, but he is also developing as a player. As we discussed in this post, he is showing the capability to play in a more central role in defence or midfield. Given this, as well as the complete lack of another natural left-sided defender, Dijks would be a sound mid-season addition.
The Dutchman spent time on loan at Norwich City last season and impressed before returning to Ajax. Since then he has played in six of the Dutch giants’ league games. But, with his contract up next summer, he could be available in January.
Technically sound and an astute passer, Dijks is just as capable staying deep and helping construct build-up as he is flying down the left flank. Were he to join, Rodgers would be able to move Tierney inside, where the young Scotsman could be more influential.
Celtic’s squad is packed with attacking midfield talent. Patrick Roberts and James Forrest provide class in wider areas, Scott Sinclair and Jonny Hayes bring real speed into their attacks, and Tom Rogic is a refined No.10. However, considering Rodgers’ tactics, they could do with another creator.
Whether in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 or a 3-5-2, the Scottish champions’ line-up is often packed with playmakers. This is especially the case domestically, where they tend to be tasked with breaking down defensive opposition.
Ghoddos would make an excellent addition to their creative ranks. The diminutive 24-year-old has impressed with Ostersund in Sweden, helping his side in the Europa League with key goals and assists against Galatasaray and PAOK.
In his last 60 domestic appearances, he has scored 30 goals and set up 19, showing genuine productivity that was rewarded with four caps for Iran. He moves intelligently, combines well with team-mates and possesses a superb first touch. Stylistically he’d suit Celtic, and he’d enhance their attacking options.
McGinn has been spoken of as a Celtic transfer target for quite some time, and he did nothing to dampen speculation of a move away from Hibernian when scoring twice at Parkhead in the 2-2 draw between the sides earlier this term.
Both goals were driven, with his left foot, into the net from outside the penalty area. A critic would have pointed out that both strikes were preventable, but the fact is he almost inflicted a first domestic defeat on the Glasgow club for over a year.
After the match, the player’s manager Neil Lennon stated that: “We know what we’ve got with John; he is a real driving force. I said he was a £5million player and I think he’s just put a couple more million on his price tag today.”
The 22-year-old combines rugged physicality with good technique and an accurate left foot, meaning he would add something different to Rodgers’ midfield. A nice side effect to signing him is that he would no longer be able to take points off of Celtic.
There are two sides to Souttar. One is the gifted ball-playing centre-back capable of opening opposition teams up with one pass; the other is the vulnerable defender capable of making costly mistakes.
In many ways, he is Scotland’s John Stones.
The 21-year-old has had a similar career to the Manchester City man.
He’s been utilised in several different positions – centre-back, right-back, defensive midfield – in numerous different formations.
He’s been lauded and criticised in equal measure.
But he is also seen by a section of supporters as key to the future of the Scottish national side, despite having yet to receive his first senior call-up.
Incredibly considering his age, Souttar made his club debut five seasons ago. He excelled at times for Dundee United before joining Heart of Midlothian, and has always evidenced penetrative passing, composure on the ball and a willingness to bring possession out from the back.
Celtic are in need of centre-backs and, while the Hearts youngster isn’t the most solid, playing in a winning team that tend to dominate the ball would make full use of his strengths while minimising his weaknesses.
Vorm was one of the first signings made by Swansea City upon their promotion to the Premier League six years ago. The manager in charge at the time of the Dutchman’s signing was Rodgers, and the two would be wise to reunite in Scotland.
The Dutch goalkeeper has been unable to threaten Hugo Lloris’ position as Tottenham Hotspur No.1, but he remains a fine shot-stopper with positive distribution. These are traits that would go down well at Celtic, and not only from a tactical perspective.
Craig Gordon is 34 years of age and has made several glaring errors this season, provoking discussion over the need for the Scottish side to sign a replacement. Vorm, whose contract is up at the end of the campaign, would be an ideal successor.