SPL

Profiling Celtic target Thomas Isherwood

 • by James Nalton
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Celtic are looking to bolster their defence this summer and have their eye on a young Bayern Munich centre-back who has considerable potential

Jozo Simunovic and Erik Sviatchenko, who is currently on loan at FC Midtjylland, could both leave the club at the end of this season and the league champions will be looking for reinforcements.

Thomas Isherwood would provide the club with a project — a player they can develop free from the weight of a hefty transfer fee and one whose value could rise drastically should other sides become interested further down the line.

Celtic have been monitoring the 20-year-old throughout the season in his games for Bayern’s second team, who play in the Regionalliga, the fourth tier of German football, and could make an offer this summer.

The Swede has a lot going for him despite not having made the breakthrough at first team level at his current club, and he could be a good fit for the Scottish league despite his relative youth.

Who is Thomas Isherwood?

Born in Sweden, Isherwood is also eligible to play for the England national team and was linked with a move to Manchester City prior to joining Bayern Munich in 2015.

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He played his youth football for a number of clubs in Sweden before being snapped up by the German giants from Stockholm based side IF Brommapojkarna.

He has represented Sweden’s national youth sides from under-15 to under-19 level and will have his sights set on the senior squad in the coming years.

Prior to joining the Bundesiga side, he had been monitored for some time by Bayern’s former player, and then youth coach and scout, Björn Andersson. After being invited for trials he was signed to a youth contract in a move which the player described as “a boyhood dream.”

He appeared for the Bayern first team in two low profile pre-season friendlies against Landshut and Lippstadt at the start of the 2016/17 season, just after Carlo Ancelotti had joined the club, but has struggled to work his way into the first team squad and is yet to make his debut in a competitive fixture.

He is very down to earth about his future and realises it will be difficult to force his way in at Bayern. However, he appreciates he is learning his craft at one of the best academies around.

“What I know is that if I do not get into the team, it does not mean that my trip ends, but it starts in another club instead,” he said.

“What I am convinced of is that I have taken the right steps. What I have managed with this first year in Bayern Munich is one thing I can not buy anywhere. It’s a school that’s incredible.”

What are his strengths?

One immediate advantage is that he’s left footed and slots naturally onto the left side of a centre-back pairing. This can be a valuable asset as clubs seek balance at the back and could provide him with a way into a first team.

At 6ft 4ins (195cm) he is naturally good in the air and will provide a threat at attacking set pieces as well as being an asset when defending them.

It’s difficult to gauge a player’s quality who hasn’t yet featured at the highest level but judging him from the games he has played, he appears to have the ability to make the next step, even if he’s not yet considered good enough for Bayern.

He’s quick enough to cover and is decent on the ball with his left foot. He’ll occasionally carry possession out of defence should gaps appear and if a passing option isn’t immediately available.

He also has good anticipation and a reading of the game which is vital in his position.

Does he have weaknesses?

If he has them they will soon become apparent as he makes his next step.

Celtic scouts are satisfied that he has the quality to play in the Scottish top flight and they will be looking to improve his passing on his weaker foot, as well as his positioning and ability to direct his headers as well as win them.

There are a number of areas which defenders can often struggle with at a young age, as many aspects of the art of defending are learnt on the job, but Isherwood has all the tools to be a good defender once given the opportunity to hone his skills.

He might struggle against the quickest of opponents but there aren’t many defenders who don’t, and he could compensate for this through other areas of the game.

How much will he cost?

Isherwood’s current deal at Bayern Munich runs out this summer so he could be available for next to nothing, though some form of compensation will have to be paid to his youth sides.

Bayern will get some return on the player they’ve developed for three years, as will his clubs in Sweden, but this shouldn’t make too big an impact on the transfer funds of the buying club, especially one in the Champions League as Celtic should be.

Why should he be signed?

The player needs first team football to help his development and Celtic could be the ideal fit.

He’s unlikely to be given too many chances at the European giants, who often prefer to sign tried and tested stars from other Bundesliga sides rather than develop their own.

For Celtic, his signing could prove to be a shrewd investment, and given his height and ability on the ball, he could become a first-team regular after a season or two of first team football under his belt.

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