Celtic missed out on left-back upgrade after targeting “king of assists”

Celtic missed out on left-back upgrade after targeting "king of assists"

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Celtic ended the January transfer window with only two additions to their first-team squad to bolster Brendan Rodgers’ options across the park.

Meanwhile, they allowed David Turnbull to join Cardiff City on a permanent basis and sent Mikey Johnston and Marco Tilio on loan to West Bromwich Albion and Melbourne City respectively.

Adam Idah was brought in on loan from Norwich City on deadline day, after Nicolas Kuhn was bought from Rapid Wien on a five-and-a-half-year deal earlier in the window.

idah-norwich-championship-wagner-preston

The two new signings did combine for the equaliser against Aberdeen on Saturday, though, as the Ireland international teed up the winger to fire into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

However, the Hoops did not enjoy a fully successful transfer window as they failed to secure signings in several positions that were identified by Rodgers.

Celtic’s January transfer window failings

Football Insider reported in January that Celtic’s head coach wanted to bring in a centre-forward, a left-back, and a goalkeeper after the signing of Kuhn.

Idah arrived as another striker to compete with Kyogo Furuhashi and Hyeon-gyu Oh but the board failed to provide the Northern Irish tactician with the other additions that were desired.

The Daily Record also reported on deadline day that a central midfielder was on the agenda for the Hoops after Turnbull was allowed to join Cardiff and an injury to Reo Hatate forced the club to look at options in the market to bolster their midfield ranks.

This means that the Hoops ended the window with two of the up to five signings that they wanted to make, as they failed to bring in a left-back, a central midfielder, or a goalkeeper to improve the squad.

Football Scotland have since outlined the club’s pursuit of a left-back and why they were unable to get one over the line before the deadline passed.

They claim that Celtic were keen on Estoril’s Tiago Araujo in November of 2023 but his £4m price tag caused them to look elsewhere in the market.

Celtic-Tiago-Araujo-Scottish-Premiership

Liverpool’s Owen Beck was next on their list but the young defender was needed by the Reds after his loan spell with Dundee and could not be used for a third team in the same season.

They then asked Wolverhampton Wanderers about a possible loan deal for Hugo Bueno but were batted away by the Premier League side, who did not want to lose him.

Football Scotland add that Celtic also ambitiously targeted a swoop for Manchester City left-back Sergio Gomez but failed to convince the Cityzens to part ways with the Spaniard.

The Scottish giants, therefore, missed out on a huge upgrade in the number three position as the Premier League defender could have been a sensational signing to replace Greg Taylor as Rodgers’ first-choice in that position.

Greg Taylor’s form for Celtic

Celtic clearly felt they needed another option at left-back to compete with Taylor and Alexandro Bernabei, given their pursuit of Gomez and the other left-back targets.

The Scotland international has been the first-choice out of the pair over the past 18 months, under both Ange Postecoglou and Rodgers, and has been a solid, albeit unspectacular, option for the club.

premiership-taylor-celtic-hoops-postecoglou-transfer-gossip

Unlike academy graduate Kieran Tierney, who assisted 25 goals in 97 Scottish Premiership appearances, before him, Taylor does not offer an outstanding level of creativity from his position.

During the 2022/23 campaign, the 26-year-old gem played 31 league matches for the Scottish giants and contributed with four assists and two ‘big chances’ created for his side.

He also failed to register a single assist or any ‘big chances’ created in six Champions League starts for the Hoops, as he struggled in Europe.

23/24 Premiership

Greg Taylor (via Sofascore)

Appearances

22

Assists

One

Big chances created

Seven

Interceptions per game

0.4

Duel success rate

50%

As you can see in the table above, Taylor has produced more high-quality opportunities for his teammates in the Premiership this term than he managed in the whole of last season already.

However, he has also lost half of his duels and made less than one interception every other game on average, which suggests that his play at both ends of the pitch leaves a bit to be desired.

The stats that show why Gomez would have been a huge upgrade

Celtic, possibly through little fault of their own as City wanted to keep him, missed out on a huge upgrade on Taylor as Gomez could have added more quality to the starting XI.

The 23-year-old dynamo joined the Premier League champions from Anderlecht in the summer of 2022 and has only started two top-flight games for the club since then.

His lack of minutes in England has stopped him from being able to showcase the best of his ability, which was on full display for his previous team in Belgium.

21/22 Pro League

Sergio Gomez (via Sofascore)

Appearances

39

Assists

11

Big chances created

15

Interceptions per game

1.3

Duel success rate

55%

As you can see in the table above, the Spanish gem provided consistent quality in the final third with his superb ability to create ‘big chances’ to assist his teammates from a left-back position, whilst he also won a higher percentage of his duels and made far more interceptions per game than Taylor has this term.

The £50k-per-week whiz ranked within the top 2% of full-backs in the division for Expected Assisted Goals (0.33) and the top 4% for assists (0.33) per 90 respectively.

Gomez, who talent scout Jacek Kulig once hailed as the “king of assists”, also caught the eye at the U21 European Championships – won by England – for Spain last summer.

Sergio-Gomez-Manchester-City

He produced three goals, two assists, and three ‘big chances’ created in five appearances at the tournament whilst playing further forward as a winger for his country.

These statistics show that the 23-year-old gem has the attacking quality to provide a huge threat from left-back, or the wing, whilst also being a solid defensive option.

Therefore, Rodgers missed out on a big upgrade on Taylor in January as the rarely-seen City squad option could have created more chances, provided more assists, and won more of his duels than the Scottish full-back for Celtic.

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