Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas has insisted that the Hoops must sign more bodies and of higher quality if they are to make a dent in on the European scene this year. Ange Postecoglou and Michael Nicholson have been busy this summer already trying to mould this squad into shape for Angeball: Part Two and have already added some new faces, whilst at the same time trimming the wage bill.
And now Nicholas has stated in his Scottish Daily Express column that the Bhoys should go for none other than Arsenal star, Pablo Mari. The Spaniard has been on the periphery at the Gunners and it would seem manager Mikel Arteta would not stand in his way if he were to get an agreeable offer for the central defender.
Celtic have brought in Moritz Jenz and added Alexandro Bernabei to the backline for competition as well as depth this pre-season. Both men will have to bide their time though, as current incumbents Stephen Welsh and Greg Taylor respectively have the jerseys at the moment and that doesn’t look as if it is about to change any time soon. Both men were excellent on opening day of the campaign on Sunday against Aberdeen and look focussed and determined to stay in the side.
Carl Starfelt is still recovering from the hamstring injury sustained during Nations League duty with Sweden back in June, meanwhile ChristopherJullien is still on the books at Parkhead – although seemingly for the exit door soon. If he were to go it would open up the possibility for another centre-back to come in and challenge the current crop we have.
And Nicholas believes Mari should be top of the list as we head into the Champions League group stages for the first time in five years. Writing in his column, he said: “I think Ange Postecoglou should go to Arsenal to give his Celtic squad more defensive armoury – especially for the Champions League. I still feel the team still needs another left-sided central defender, especially if they want to make a real impression in the group stages of Europe’s top club competition.
“I know Ange has Carl Starfelt and brought in Moritz Jenz from Lorient, who can play there, but I would prefer a natural left-sided player, somebody who is comfortable on the ball and good at playing out. I would like to see him go for a quality and experienced central defender, even if it is only on loan. The player I would try and get would be Pablo Mari at Arsenal. The Spaniard is experienced, is naturally left-sided, is a real presence and is a good, good player. The fact he is at Arsenal and had previously been at Manchester City shows the sort of quality Mari has. I know he has had loan spells at both clubs but he was out at Udinese last season and that again shows the level he is at.
“I think Celtic’s squad is stronger than last season but I don’t think they have taken a leap forward yet. Yes, I know it is early in the season and the new players are still bedding in but until Ange addresses the left-sided centre back then I don’t see Celtic taking that leap forward again. I think Starfelt and Jenz will get Celtic by domestically but they need to raise the bar again, especially for the Champions League.”
One thing that Celtic have been crying out for is a naturally left-footed central defender of late. The higher the opposition, the more evident weaknesses become and they are ruthlessly exploited in tournaments like the Champions League.
I actually agree with Charlie Nicholas that we could be doing with a player of that type at Celtic Park just now. However, as previously mentioned, it would all depend on the removal of Chris Jullien from the wage bill.
“Maybe Charlie’s right…”
Words that I never expected to be written or said by any Tim these days…
The man is a preposterous fool. He’s not right, he’s right-adjacent at best!