Nir Bitton was sent off in Celtic’s 1-1 draw against FC Midtjylland in The Champions League Qualifiers. The Israeli started the game with Stephen Welsh at the back in the crucial game for Ange Postecoglou but, as has been the case in Europe, Bitton had a moment of madness at the back. The player appears to have fallen out of favour with Postecoglou but it would be worth considering moving Bitton back to the centre of midfield, offering the manager another option.
The highlights reel of Moussa Dembele’s goal against Rangers in 2016 sparked the memory of Bitton strolling around the centre of the park that day with Scott Brown, breaking up play and finding tidy passes to play. The assist for Dembele is a pass we have seen Bitton play for years, but less so recently. A few weeks later that year, Bitton was excellent in the midfield against Pep Guardiola’s Man City as Celtic earned a hard-fought draw against the English side in The Champions League. Sadly the 16/17 season would be Bitton’s last as a midfielder competing with Callum McGregor, Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic and Scott Brown for places in Rodgers’ side. The following year, injuries and a lack of investment at the back meant that Bitton would deputise in the backline for Rodgers. Something that has continued from 2017 all the way until 2021.
Bitton’s performances have been steady, he is an excellent footballer and the standard of the opponent in most games in Scotland leave Celtic’s defenders untested for large periods of the game. Bitton’s versatility has always been his USP in recent years, a midfielder that can play at the back too. However, that has changed and he has become primarily a defender for both the National Team and Celtic.
The weekend’s win over Ross County highlighted Celtic’s lack of depth at the moment given injuries. Ismaila Soro and James McCarthy both came on the pitch but that would be all of Celtic’s midfielders utilised in the one day. One injury could potentially leave Celtic short in the middle and given the amount of games, Postecoglou should look at offering Bitton more minutes back in the midfield.
Postecoglou has proven that he can bring a player back from the brink – namely Anthony Ralston. This could make the manager keen to try and get Bitton back to his cultured best, a player that has impressed for Celtic. It would be worth considering in the future, getting Bitton back in the middle of the park and helping him get back up to speed for Celtic.