Celtic’s transfer business should be hitting high gear about now. We’re more than two weeks in and there are less than two weeks left, and we still need two players at a minimum.
The left back and the striker are critical positions and the club has been actively working on something in each area for a while now. We will soon know what they come up with.
I’ve been banging the drum for a striker since the middle of the summer. I’ve been banging the drum for a right sided midfielder for a few months, since it became obvious that with Abada out we were really struggling on that front. But there is a position which we are not trying to fill in this window that I have literally been stamping my feet over for years.
And I still feel like we need someone in that area, but I am willing to wait for the summer. Because we might have part of the answer in the team already, and I am as surprised as anyone by the excellent form of Paulo Bernardo.
I said something curious to my old man about Bernardo going into the game against Livingston; I said I was unsure Bernardo was a guy we would go for because I still wasn’t sure what his exact position in the team was. I remain unsure, but the fact is that he adds both quality and steel to a midfield which was screaming out for both of those things.
He is a much tougher tackler than I thought initially. He is a much more potent attacking threat as well. His goal against the Ibrox club was excellent and it capped a superb midfield display. I can see him really having a big impact if we keep him at the club.
I still think we need a midfield iron man, and for all his skill-set I don’t believe that’s him … but he would very obviously be a good first team player, a really good talent to have available to us and someone who would most certainly enhance the squad and the managers options. With Hatate now back and fit he and Bernardo have lowered the need for midfielder down the list of our priorities and that is something I actually didn’t think I’d say.
Because we’ve been screaming out for more quality in this area since the departure of Aaron Mooy, and for a ball winning battler since way before that. Bernardo is actually a pretty good player in that regard, although I still can’t say for sure it’s his natural role. He seems to me to be a good old fashioned number 8, a player with a good range of passing who can dictate the game, win the ball when required and even get up to support the attack.
He’s a very good all-rounder, in short, which is why I had that initial problem trying to identify his exact role in the team.
They are usually tough players to put into a mould, being able to do everything well enough to be a starter but where no particular part of his game is necessarily a standout. I thought that in addition to his good performances recently in the league that he was also pretty good when called upon to play in Europe.
I am really happy with him now. I think there’s a definite player there, and if he’s really available for a £6 million clause we should think very seriously about taking Benfica up on that, and demur only if there is an outstanding footballer in the same price bracket who offers us more in one specific area of the field where the manager thinks we need it.
But if he decides to sanction a deal for Bernardo, I would be pretty pleased with that. He made those pretenders in the Ibrox midfield look like precisely that, and he looks like one of those players who will stroll through these games for years to come.
When you see the hype that gets poured on the likes of Raskin and Cantwell, and then you watch one of our players turn in a level-headed, game defining, goal scoring display like he did it shows you the difference between their hype and our reality.