Celtic may have got the better of Rangers at the weekend, but the gap between the two Old Firm rivals is clearly closing once again. With that in mind this summer should see Celtic make improvements to the side if they are to maintain their position at the top of Scottish football.
One man that Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers should surely be considering is Hamburg defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
The Greek defender is looking likely to be on his way out of Hamburg in the summer. The German side were thumped 6-0 by Bayern Munich at the weekend and seem condemned to relegation to 2. Bundesliga this season.
Hamburg will need to drastically reduce their wage bill if relegated and Papadopoulos is one of their highest earners. Hamburg Morgenpost recently suggested the Greek defender would be one of those sold. He recently publicly criticised the running of the club, as reported by Eurosport, adding fuel to that fire.
Celtic could certainly do with strengthening the centre-back position. Whilst this season has been a struggle for Papadopoulos, he was once one of Europe’s finest young defenders. Injuries have played their role in his downfall but he remains a top centre-back.
Celtic boss Rodgers is aware of that fact. After all, when manager of Liverpool, the Northern Irishman tried to sign Papadopoulos.
Back in 2013 it was reported that Rodgers wanted Papadopoulos to be the long-term replacement for Jamie Carragher. The Mirror reported that a £13.5 million bid was being readied for the then Schalke defender.
In the end, his injury record looked to much of a concern. Liverpool instead signed Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain.
In the summer of 2015, Liverpool were again linked with the fit-again Greek star. The Mirror claimed Rodgers was keen on rekindling his interest in the player after a loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen. Instead, Papadopoulos signed a permanent deal at the BayArena.
Now Rodgers may have the perfect opportunity to get his man. Hamburg will have to sell the defender this summer. Celtic could easily get hold of the player at a cut-price considering the German side’s precarious position.
The intense and often over-zealous defender would be an instant fan favourite with Celtic fans. Papadopoulos wears his heart on his sleeve and would undoubtedly don the green-and-white hoops with pride.
Celtic would be bringing in a perfect match with the Greek’s signature. Rodgers would finally be getting his man. This seems a no-brainer for the summer.
Celtic move for Angus Gunn would be perfect for club and player
The Manchester City youngster has been in fine form during a loan spell at Manchester City.
Celtic are being linked with a move for Manchester City goalkeeper Angus Gunn this summer.
The Sun report that both Celtic and Stoke City are interested in signing the young stopper.
Gunn, son of legendary Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, has been forging his own reputation at Carrow road this season.
The 22-year-old is wanted on loan by Celtic for next season, with a view to a potential permanent move.
Considering Gunn has to find his way past Ederson to be City’s number one, a summer exit certainly seems likely.
For Gunn and for Celtic this would be a tremendous move, as Rodgers starts planning for life after Craig Gordon. The Scotland international is currently out of action with an injury.
Scott Bain arrived on loan from Dundee whilst Dorus de Vries is also present, but neither player is as talented as the City man.
Celtic, of course, have a good working relationship with City.
The likes of Jason Denayer and Patrick Roberts have previously joined the club on loan from the Etihad and Gunn would simply be following in their footsteps.
For the young stopper, it would represent an opportunity to play regular football at a high level. Not only would he be featuring in the Scottish top-flight, but also the Champions League.
Gunn is a young keeper with absolute bags of potential. But, to be honest, a future career at City just does not look plausible for the stopper.
A move to Celtic could easily become permanent, leaving Gunn potentially playing for one of the most historic clubs in Europe.
If Celtic come calling this summer, which they should do, Gunn must be on his way to Parkhead.
Sam Byram would be perfect Celtic target for summer
The right-back was linked with a move to Liverpool whilst a Leeds United player.
It would be fair to say that Sam Byram has not exactly enjoyed a good time at West Ham United.
Since his move from Leeds United in January 2016, he has struggled to find anything like his best form. Injuries have not helped matters either.
All in all, Byram has played just 36 times for the Hammers in the past two and a half season.
So, should Celtic offer him a way out this summer?
First of all, Brendan Rodgers is supposedly a fan. Back in April 2015, it was reported by the Daily Star that Byram was being tracked by Rodgers when Liverpool manager.
An £8 million deal for the player was mooted but nothing ever happened.
It would not be a surprise if Liverpool were interested. Byram was one of the hottest prospects in the Championship. West Ham won the battle for his signature a few months later, with Everton beaten into second. By this time, Rodgers was out of work. He had been sacked, with Jurgen Klopp the new Liverpool boss.
Now, Rodgers is at Celtic and the Bhoys need to sign a new right-back in the summer. Swedish defender Mikael Lustig has endured a tough season. His drop in form has certainly been one of the more alarming aspects of Celtic’s campaign.
In back-up, Celtic have Cristian Gamboa, who in all honesty cannot buy a game at Parkhead. After the Costa Rican, there is Anthony Ralston, one for the future at 19-years-old he is currently on loan at Dundee United.
Come the summer a new right-back recruit will be needed and Byram could be perfect.
The 24-year-old still has plenty to offer in his career and moving north of the border could be the perfect kickstart he has been looking for.
With Celtic needing a right-back, the pursuit of Byram would certainly make sense this summer.
After Scotland call-up should Celtic bring Dylan McGeouch back for third spell
The Hibernian midfielder has been in fine form this season.
Alex McLeish’s first Scotland squad since returning to the national team role threw up a few surprises and first time call ups. Manchester United’s Scott McTominay was already known to be in the squad but he is joined by uncapped quintet Oli McBurnie, Barry Douglas, Jon McLaughlin, Scott McKenna and Dylan McGeouch. It is the latter that will be of particular interest to Celtic fans.
McGeouch has been in fine form under Neil Lennon at Hibernian this season. The 25-year-old has been running the show from midfield at Easter Road and catching the eye with his performances.
For Celtic, it is surely a regret to see him performing so well now. The midfielder spent eight years with Celtic, over two spells, as a youngster.
After making his first-team debut in November 2011 McGeouch spent time on loan at Coventry City and Hibernian, eventually making the latter permanent. After initially struggling with injury at Hibs McGeouch has made himself a regular and one of the best performing midfielders in the Scottish Premiership.
So should Celtic consider bringing McGeouch back?
It would be the third time McGeouch signed for Celtic. He left the club as a youngster, joining local rivals Rangers, before returning in 2011.
McGeouch is out of contract in the summer. As reported by the Scotsman in January, the midfielder is in no rush to sign anything regarding the new three-year extension. His patience could pay off. Celtic will no doubt regret letting McGeouch go now – seeing how well he has performed since the permanent switch to Edinburgh.
But he will be available on a free transfer and for Celtic it is essentially a no risk transfer if they manage to pry McGeouch away from Hibs.
If they did, it could be a case of third time lucky for the 26-year-old at Celtic Park.
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