With the summer transfer window almost shut, and Celtic having agreed deals to sell Odsonne Edouard to Crystal Palace and Ryan Christie to Bournemouth, many thought our transfer business was complete, especially as we had already signed both of these players replacements earlier in the window.
We were wrong however as Celtic made a late move to shore up their defence and yet again looked towards White Hart Lane to find a bargain, after having already snapped up Tottenham reserve goalkeeper Joe Hart earlier in the month. As the window shut Celtic announced they had got the deal across the line, announcing they had signed American centre back Cameron Carter-Vickers on loan until the end of the season. Once again, similar to the deal agreed for Portuguese winger Jota earlier in the day, the club wisely inserted an ‘option to buy’ clause in the deal.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, our 12th and final signing of the summer, looked to be exactly what the club needed, an imposing figure who is known as much for his composure on the ball as he is for being strong in the tackle, the perfect mixture for a centre back trying to fit into manager Ange Postecoglou’s footballing philosophy.
The defender had eight international caps for the United States and had played for them since Under-18 level, qualifying through his father, American basketball player, Howard Carter. He had been on Spurs’ books since 2009 as an 11-year-old after joining from his hometown Southend-on-Sea club, Catholic United. The most aptly named club for a future Celtic player I have ever heard!
Carter-Vickers had earned first-team experience on loan at a number of English Championship clubs, most recently with Bournemouth, and has played over 130 top-team games.
On agreeing a deal to play in Glasgow for at least the next season, Carter-Vickers told celticfc.com the following:
“I am absolutely delighted to agree this move to Celtic, it is a really exciting opportunity for me and I am desperate to meet my new team-mates and get going for the season ahead.
“I know I am going to a huge Club which means so much to so many people and I will be doing all I can to bring our fans the success which their support deserves.”
The American defender made his debut for the Hoops in the 3-0 win over Ross County at Celtic Park, capping a fine display defensively by scoring the opener with a deflected effort from almost 40 yards out that came at a perfect time as Celtic were finding the stubborn Staggies hard to break down.
In total Carter-Vickers has starred for Celtic a total of 24 times this season, adding to his goal tally after his initial debut strike by also scoring at Easter Road in a 3-1 win towards the end of October. The USA international has been a mainstay at the heart of the Celtic defence and is probably one of the first names on the team sheet due to his steady performances all season.
Playing at the right hand side of the two Celtic like to play at centre back he has been paired with both Carl Starfelt and Stephen Welsh at times during the season. Neither of that pair have fully impressed in the role and at times it has been up to Carter-Vickers to bail his partner out in certain situations. In the absence of Christopher Jullien it has felt like the American has really become the imposing figure in defence that we have missed since the Frenchman’s unfortunate injury.
Carter-Vickers has been a wonderful signing for Celtic and exactly the type of centre back we needed. Whether it has been on the domestic front or in Europe, he has proved already this season that he is a steady, reliable sort who very rarely makes mistakes during a game, something we unfortunately can’t say about his centre back partner Carl Starfelt.
The USA international has many positive attributes which he brings to this Celtic side. Obviously he is an imposing figure who doesn’t get shrugged off the ball easily. He is strong in the tackle and reads the game well. With this current Celtic side not being overly impressive in the height department he is vital in aerial battles, often being the man heading the ball out from incoming set pieces. This isn’t to say we aren’t still weak in that department, but having Carter-Vickers in there certainly helps us in that regard.
He might not be the quickest defender but he reads the game well and to be honest I can’t remember too many occasions were an opposing player has left him for dead. One of his main attributes that is vital to ‘Angeball’ is his composure on the ball. He passes the ball well and is always an outlet for a backwards pass when needed. His first touch is good and he will quickly and safely relay the ball on when in possession, which is all you really want from your centre back.
Like fellow summer signing Jota, there have been plenty of rumours flying around about his ‘option to sign’ clause. The mainstream media have claimed Spurs are playing games with the figure required to sign him up permanently, however much like Jota I wouldn’t believe everything you read in this regards. I can’t see this being true, surely a fee was already negotiated regarding his permanent purchase when signing him on loan, otherwise you are leaving yourself open to the selling club hiking the price up if he impressed during the loan spell?
If that final figure to buy is fair, and I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t be, Celtic should be taking Spurs up on it come the end of the season. Good centre backs are one of the hardest commodities to come across in modern football, and in Carter-Vickers we most certainly have one.
It will be interesting with Jullien coming back to full fitness if we will see the two of them being paired up at the heart of the defence, something a lot of our support has been anticipating all season. It certainly would be the most imposing centre back pairing we have had in a long time although their may be worries that the pair are two similar and may lack the pace to keep up with a few hot heeled strikers.
Celtic have the best defensive record in the league this season and Carter-Vickers has been a huge part in that success. Keeping him fit during the rest of the season will be vital, as will deciding who out of Starfelt, Welsh and Jullien will be the best option to partner the American. Let’s hope he will remain at Celtic Park long after his loan deal expires in the summer.