The media today says that the player we are closing in on from down south, to cover our defensive crisis, is Nat Phillips of Liverpool. Indeed, in the last half hour, that possibility has hardened into near certainty, with the player apparently set to travel to Scotland tonight.
I said in an article yesterday, “The central defender, we will get because I genuinely cannot see how we can afford not to. We may be surprised by how that ends up. I hear names being thrown around which I think can’t possibly be accurate, but which I’d take in a minute.”
So, we’ve shown some imagination after all here, and I’m glad for that.
If we get Phiillips, I will be pretty satisfied that we’ve identified someone who meets the broad characteristics of what we’re looking for; he’s physically imposing, he’s strong in the air, he has top level experience … this isn’t a project player or kid, he’s 26 years old.
I wonder if we’ll include an option to buy.
Apparently, we stand a chance of getting that with the midfielder from Benfica; again, that would change the equation somewhat because I do not want us in a position where our manager is essentially developing another club’s players for them. It’s a different argument if you’ve got the option of doing a permanent deal.
With Phillips, you can see there’s a lot of sense in including an option to buy.
We don’t know what the situation will be with, say, Cameron Carter Vickers in the summer of next year.
We don’t know if either of our two new centre backs are going to cut it.
We don’t know if one of them is going to astonish us with his talents and be swiftly linked with moves away.
So, if we can do a deal for this guy and get a buy option as part of it, we shouldn’t even hesitate to put that in the contract and bring him here for the rest of the campaign.
The competition for places at the back would be intense; that’s just how you want it.
He would need to be realistic with his wage demands; this is all stuff that can be negotiated though.
He would also have to want to come here and play long-term, but again, that’s something that would be decided closer to the time. For now, this is a more than adequate stop-gap option, this is the kind of signing we should have been aiming for earlier.
This would answer one of the questions.
It would put Brendan’s much wanted “power” in the Celtic team.
It would give us all a rest from the constant worries about going into the Champions League with a back four held together by superglue.
It’s bold and its aggressive and he would slot right in.
This is the chink of light we were waiting for, the sign that the end of this window might be better than we had believed.
If we can get this deal done, and the Portuguese midfielder with an option to buy – because I hear he is actually the sort of tough guy midfielder I’ve been banging on about – then along with Palma we’ll be almost there.
The only player left out of my priorities list would be the striker.
And of course, Sydney Van Hooijdonk’s name is doing the rounds … and at 6’3, with a decent enough scoring record and plenty of experience, he’s a much better bet than a 21-year-old Dane who has just broken into first team football at Bronby. That word again – “power” – most certainly applies to that big lad.
Some people would prioritise the left back or the keeper, and we might yet get movement there … but three out of four of the positions I think are the most pressing … that would be a huge step towards bringing some satisfaction, and settling some of the nerves.
And even as I write this more news breaks that Liel Abada is on the brink of agreeing a new deal with the club. Which I’ll have to do more on later, but a significant and welcome development if true and one that should definitely be greeted well by every supporter.
We wanted – demanded – that the club deliver for the manager.
Maybe, just maybe, here at the last, they might yet do it.
Fingers crossed, as we enter the last two days.
Get these deals done, Celtic, and give this whole support the lift it badly needed.