I’m fairly sure most of us didn’t expect to see Christopher Jullien return to the Celtic team this season, but I’m certain we were all hopeful we would see our French centre half back in the heart of the defence for next season’s euro qualifiers.
Now that Neil Lennon has poured cold water on that hope today it seems Celtic’s defensive woes will extend into the next campaign, one we’re all hoping will be an improvement on the current one.
— Chris Jullien.. (@Chri6ViF) February 19, 2021
Celtic’s defensive concerns are already there for all to see and Jullien being missing in action for nine months simply adds to a near desperate situation.
At present Celtic currently only have one loan player at right back in the shape of Jonjoe Kenny and with no option to buy, whilst the only other one near the first team, Lee O’Connor is currently on loan at Tranmere Rovers.
On the left side of defence Greg Taylor is Celtic’s solely contracted full back with Diego Laxalt’s permanent registration with AC Milan. It appears if the Uruguayan is unable to shift Taylor from the team, he will be returning to the San Siro rather than gracing the Celtic team as a signing next season.
Meanwhile in the centre of Defence there is little depth either. Stephen Welsh and Kris Ajer are the only two fit central defenders contracted to Celtic and our big Norwegian appears to have wandering thoughts as to his own future employment, whilst Shane Duffy is on loan from Brighton and far from impressing when available in any case.
Nir Bitton of course may well return to the fold soon but even he has been linked with a return to his Israeli homeland of late and if we’re being honest has never fully convinced as anything more than a handy option to have as a squad player. And that’s before we consider the goalkeeping situation where there is little confidence at present in any of the three options currently in place.
As such the news of an extended period on the sidelines, one stretching into the new campaign, for Christopher Jullien is a genuinely worrying development.
In his as ever excellent match ratings on Wednesday night , The Celtic’s Star’s Sandman – and if you don’t check those out already you really are missing out – put forward the case for Kris Ajer’s contract situation to be revisited with immediacy and the offer of the captaincy to perhaps be included in any bumper contract offer in an article where he named Ajer as Celtic’s man of the match against Aberdeen:
‘Yet this is the big bhoy who’s shown most desire and hunger to win, to achieve, of them all. He was a rock tonight, holding the fort, thwarting every attempt to go through his guard like a linebacker; not so much ‘The Fridge’ as The Iceman If there is to be any proper attempt to keep wantaway players this summer, put him top of the list and throw in a captain’s armband.’
READ THIS…Will Local Superiority and Bragging Rights be a Habit too Hard to Break for the Celtic Support?
The loss of Jullien and indeed Ajer’s blossoming partnershipwith Stephen Welsh mean Celtic need to consider just that in the next few weeks. It is likely even on the back of signing Sheffield Wednesday’s Liam Shaw, a player John Kennedy described as ‘one for the future’ that Celtic will need to be looking at defensive recruits come the summer, but if there is any scope in encouraging Kris Ajer to sign a new contract it would make sense to exhaust all suitable options at home first before we look at the alternatives.
Ajer has of course attracted interest from elsewhere but it would seem hard offers haven’t materialised yet for the big Norwegian. Given the uncertainty in the transfer market, perhaps the offer of a healthy wage rise allied to an element of responsibility as a senior player at Celtic, alongside Callum McGregor, may well tempt the player to consider a bird in the hand being better than two in the bush.
With Captain Scott Brown’s contract expiring, and you’d assume even if offered a new deal, much like the Crag Gordon situation last summer, that any further season long contract offered would be on much reduced terms or indeed in a coaching capacity, it may well give scope for Ajer to not only be offered terms as one of the highest paid players on the books but also the chance to be Celtic’s first ever foreign captain.
There is bound to be a huge turnover in playing personnel this summer, some continuity wherever possible may well be beneficial if we are hoping to hit the ground running next season. The loss of Christopher Jullien for such a lengthy period may well focus attention onto Kris Ajer’s contract situation once more. It has to be worth asking the question.