One of the most glaring problems Celtic will face this summer is the long overdue replacement for a right sided full back after the club cashed in on Jeremie Frimong in January, as the former Manchester City fringe player moved to the Bundesliga and Bayer Leverkusen. At the same time the unsettled and homesick Hatem abd Elhamed headed back to Israel with everyone’s best wishes but also concerned just how little cover Celtic had left themselves at full back.
Celtic of course took on a loan deal for Jonjoe Kenny but I don’t think anyone has been in any way convinced by Everton’s third choice full back and there is little to no chance of him returning to Celtic on an extended loan or permanent deal.
This would leave Celtic with Lee O’Connor, due to return from a season on loan at Tranmere Rovers and Anthony Ralston. It is hard to see a future for Ralston given that, even on the back of shaky performances from Kenny, Ralston has remained on the subs bench. And as Video Celts recently reported, Ralston’s relying on Celtic taking up their year option on his contract – fat chance that is going to happen. Whilst if O’Connor does come back to Celtic, he’ll be as squad cover initially at best. As such Celtic need to identify a right back and soon.
One player worth keeping an eye on is Blackburn Rovers Ryan Nyambe. The Championship full back and Namibian International is a product of Blackburn’s Academy system, and the player who signed a two-year contract with the option of a third year in 2019 has been in protracted negotiations with his club for a few months now.
Blackburn are in a position where they have a tough call to make. The player is 23 and Blackburn Rovers are resigned to losing Ryan Nyambe with the defender expected to leave the club this summer, however the quandary is whether to trigger the new deal and the money that entails and try and sell the player with a year left on his contract, or in the absence of a new deal risk going to a tribunal through the Professional Football Compensation Committee (PFCC).
This is only required when a player is under 24 years of age and then moves clubs having reached the end of his contract. Whatever valuation the tribunal comes up with is non-negotiable, with the player already changed clubs there is no appeal process once a figure has been agreed. However as Celtic have shown before they often are wise to such opportunities and the cross-border benefit of being able to target a player and not be subject to PFCC rules. As such Celtic may be in a position, if they can get the player to agree, of being in a strong negotiating position to get Nyambe on a lesser fee.
Nyambe plays predominately as a right back and is a tidy defender, strong in the tackle as well as being safe in possession when breaking from the back. He is also a surprisingly strong dribbler of the ball for a full back as well as being an athletic player, he also prefers to play a short passing game rather than the long diagonals you often see utilised in the English Championship. He is also good in the air and is versatile enough to have filled in at centre half as well as right back where his strong ability in block tackles has been evident.
The one thing that sells Nyambe to me is simply the fact he is a defender first and foremost and his attacking intentions, whilst still a strength, are secondary to what he sees as his first job – namely assisting his team to keep clean sheets.
It would also be beneficial to have a player with height and capable of defending his back post after a season where every cross ball or set piece resulted in watching the game through our fingers. Ryan Nyambe would give a lot more reassurance in that regard and with the player only 23 and unable to agree a new contract with Blackburn a minimal outlay is likely to get the player, if of course we can agree personal terms.
The attraction of a top-class coach and the carrot of European football may well be enough to tempt Ryan Nyambe north of the border as well as the advantage for us by plugging the gaping hole on the right side of Celtic’s defence.
Look what arrived today…David Potter’s new book, Alec McNair – Celtic’s Icicle… with two very special collage presentations at the start and end of the book, from @Celticcurio….click on any of images to order a signed copy.