Transfers

Identifying the next wonderkid winger who could star for Celtic

 • by Sam McGuire
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Celtic have carved out a niche in recent seasons of managing to acquire highly-rated wingers on a loan basis. Some have been successes, some haven’t. But it’s a good habit to have.

Bringing talented youngsters to Parkhead should always be a priority. Not only does it potentially improve the quality on show, with these players relishing the opportunity to play first-team football on a regular basis, but it also helps the Celtic brand.

The arrival of Timothy Weah in January meant Americans had an interest in the goings on at Paradise. His loan spell ultimately fizzled out after Neil Lennon replaced Brendan Rodgers but a new audience was attracted.

And while Patrick Roberts didn’t have as global appeal as the forward borrowed from Paris Saint-Germain, his name constantly crept up with fans of Manchester City and England keen to see how he was getting on in Glasgow.

Celtic do not have the financial muscle of several English clubs. They have to be shrewd in the transfer market and often loans are the best route.

With the Bhoys hoping to make an impact in the Champions League next season, as well as marching on in their quest to win ten titles in a row, we take a look at three potential loan signings who could be game-changing acquisitions.

Reiss Nelson

The Arsenal wonderkid initially impressed on loan with Hoffenheim last season but struggled to cement a place in Julian Nagelsmann’s starting XI. Eventually, he had to settle for a role as an impact sub but the exposure to the competitive nature of the Bundesliga aided his development.

Nelson admitted he struggled at times and was late for training on occasion, but all of these experience will ultimately make him a better player. Per Mertesacker, the manager of Arsenal’s academy, believes the experience will benefit him as a player.

“It’s quite interesting for Reiss, the journey he’s facing in Germany,” the former centre-back told Goal earlier in the campaign. “He’s describing it as a tough time, but every day in training there’s something he takes on. With a young manager who really believes in him and gives him chances, sometimes he comes off the bench and makes the difference.

“So, for him, the next step is really to play regularly, playing from the start. That’s his next challenge but at the moment he’s making an impact coming off the bench, he’s getting minutes, he’s learning a new culture, a new language. I think it’s very beneficial to him.”

After what could be described as an educational season, Nelson needs a move which will allow him to showcase all he’s learned. Celtic could be the perfect platform for him to flourish.

Unlike other players his age, the 19-year-old does have an end product. Though the sample size is fairly limited, he averaged a goal per game in Germany, a substantial overperformance when compared to his expected goals, that average of 0.39 is still impressive.

He’s also a creative menace and averaged 2.29 open-play key passes as well as completing 2.44 of his dribbles. Nelson has a bit of everything to his game and could be the x-factor Celtic need to progress in Europe.

Bernard Tekpetey

Tekpetey is the wildcard of the list. Paderborn claimed promotion to the Bundesliga, finishing second behind FC Koln in the second tier, and should, in theory, want to keep their squad together.

However, Tekpetey is one of their best players and selling him could fund their spending for the next couple of seasons.

A loan away may seem counterproductive but it puts the 21-year-old versatile forward in the shop window and potentially, if he impresses at Celtic, keeps his stock high. At Paderborn, who are expected to struggle next season, his value and form, could plummet.

It wouldn’t be an easy sell but if Celtic could convince the Bundesliga side that they offer a greater platform for him to shine then perhaps a deal could be struck.

And he would be a welcomed addition to the frontline at Parkhead.

He’s direct on the ball and very aggressive when he manages to isolate a defender. He scores a variety of goals making him unpredictable and therefore difficult to truly stop.

The 21-year-old could be a revelation in Scotland.

Marcus Edwards

The 20-year-old trickster enjoyed a loan spell in the Eredivisie during the 2018/19 season. Unfortunately, it ended in relegation but the Spurs man did enough to impress.

He’s very much a player who thrives in individual situations. He likes to isolate a defender and then beat them for pace on either the inside or the outside. Edwards prefers to pick out a team-mate when putting the ball into the area as opposed to hitting a hopeful pass across the face of goal.

In some ways, it makes him predictable. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Teammates know what to expect so can get into the required positions.

Edwards is a constant threat. He attempted close to seven dribbles per 90 and averaged 4.64 touches in the opposition penalty area last term. That sort of directness is bound to create opportunities and, in the chaos that ensues, Odsonne Édouard could benefit.

Once compared to Lionel Messi by Mauricio Pochettino, Edwards could go a long way to fulfil the abundance of potential he has with Celtic.

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