Fabregas to Celtic is fanciful but the balance of the backline is a constructive criticism

You know Ange Postecoglou has won over even the harshest of critics when “harshly treated “Charlie Nicholas is fulsome in his praise for the football on display at Celtic Park, and in recent months Nicholas has very much gone from the go to man for a critical quote on Celtic, to one who has bought in hook line and sinker to the Postecoglou process. That is no mean feat for Ange, that’s for sure.

This week in his Daily Express column Charlie has returned to criticism but on this occasion it’s very much of the constructive kind, as he looks at the transfer window and considers a lack of ‘stardust’ and balance that Celtic could look to remedy in the January transfer window.

The stardust option seems fanciful it must be said as Nicholas considers the possibility Ange Postecoglou and Michael Nicholson may be able to attract Cesc Fabregas from a Monaco lifestyle to Glasgow’s East End.

Paris Saint-Germain’s  Neymar (R) vies for the ball with Monaco’s midfielder Cesc Fabregas during the French L1 match  at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco on November 20, 2020. (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

“I would like to go into the market and try to get somebody like Cesc Fabregas,” Nicholas wrote. “I spoke to him in December when we were both at an Arsenal game. He is still fit as a flea but he isn’t getting a game at Monaco.

“I know speaking to him that he wants to keep playing for the next year or two. I know Celtic maybe couldn’t afford his salary but maybe they could come to an agreement with Monaco.

9 Nov 2000: Lubo Moravcik of Celtic celebrates scoring Celtic’s first goal during the UEFA Cup Second Round, Second Leg match between Celtic and Bordeaux. Photo  Mark Thompson/ALLSPORT

“I feel the team needs a Lubo Moravcik-type and Cesc would be perfect. I would like to see Ange Postecoglou and Celtic do more business. If Ange was looking for star dust then I would ask Cesc the question. He is still only 34.”

To be fair there is an element of logic in Nicholas looking to add experience and leadership to the Celtic team, however the reality of Cesc Fabregas is his wages would be astronomical and likely a bridge to far within Celtic’s structure. There would also be the concern, though fit at present according to Charlie, Fabregas’ injury record is not one to take on board given the outlay it would take to conclude a deal. Add to that Celtic have already added Yosuke Ideguchi as a deep lying playmaker, the role Cesc Fabregas would expected to fill, and you have to say Charlie’s hopes are more pie in the sky than a sprinkling of stardust.

Monaco’s  midfielder Cesc Fabregas (2R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and FC Metz at the “Louis II” stadium in Monaco, on April 3, 2021. (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

However, Charlie’s constructive look at the Celtic squad from a defensive perspective certainly has merit. The balance issue in Celtic’s backline is certainly one Ange Postecoglou will be aware of and it’s a point Charlie has spot on. “I would like to see Celtic bring in another left-handed centre half and a left-back. I still feel the team is unbalanced. That is why I feel they need more left-sided defenders,” Nicholas continued. “They have been quick off the mark to sign Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi from the J-League. They are players Ange knows and what they can bring to his squad.”

5th December 2021; Tannadice Park, Dundee, Scotland: Scottish Premier League football, Dundee United versus Celtic: Greg Taylor of Celtic on the ball

Celtic after all look a far more balanced team when Greg Taylor is in the side, he’s a player who has embraced the inverted full back role and until injury interrupted his season, he was one of the players Ange Postecoglou had improved markedly.

When Callum McGregor plays in the number six role and Taylor at left back there was a fluency about Celtic’s left side as an attacking force. Yet if Taylor is injured there appears limited options at full back who fully understand what is required.

Whether a new left back would be seen as priority in the January window remains to be seen given Boli Bolingoli remains on the books and a pathway has to be available for the burgeoning talents of Adam Montgomery and Liam Scales has earned the right for gametime to build on his positive start at the club. However, with Taylor the only left back who has fully grasped his new role in Ange’s system, Charlie may have a point.

Celtic’s Adam Montgomery and Liam Scales. Photo Andrew Milligan

And Nicholas is certainly correct to consider the balance issue in central defence. Celtic have in the past sought to correct the balance of a squad full of right footed centre backs and this time last year looked to have sealed a deal for Preston’s left footed centre back Ben Davies. However, the club were gazumped by Liverpool and that issue of balance is still to be addressed.

Carl Starfelt has of course filled the shirt and in the main performed admirably. Yet it is clear, as an almost exclusively right footed player, there is a hesitancy in that area of the team when receiving and recycling the ball, a natural left footer again may assist in bringing that balance to the backline.

Whether either of those defensive positions is something Ange Postecoglou intends to look at in the January window remains to be seen, however there is certainly a constructive element to Charlie’s criticism this time around, and although the signing of Cesc Fabregas may be a little out of touch and his stardust out of our financial reach, the subject of balance in the left side of the defence is a point well made.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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