Tyneside hero Rafael Benitez has successfully maintained Newcastle United‘s Premier League status and the 58-year-old manager is already planning on a summer clear-out.
One of the players who has been linked with an exit from the club is talented defender Chancel Mbemba, who, according to the Chronicle, is being linked with a move to Celtic.
The 23-year-old has fallen out of favour with Benitez, despite starting positively under Steve Mclaren, since his move from Anderlecht in 2015.
The centre-back has made just 19 league starts for the Magpies this season and has not featured for the club since January when Newcastle were beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup.
The move would be perfect for Celtic, and would also be great for the Scottish Premier League, with the addition of a talented defender, who still has more to show from his time in North-East England.
Celtic are on course for another treble under Brendan Rodgers with the Hoops lining up against Motherwell on Saturday in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.
Despite the focus being purely on getting his sixth trophy as Celtic manager, the former Liverpool boss can be forgiven for already thinking about next season considering his former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has just taken over the reigns at Ibrox.
Mbemba was one of the stand-out players in his first season at Newcastle and Rodgers has become a manager famous for specialising in getting the best of young talents.
The likes of Scott Sinclair and Moussa Dembele are all talents who are thriving under the Northern Irish manager and Mbemba could be another success story when it comes to the Scottish top flight attracting the most promising of youngsters.
The Congo international is still relatively experienced and has still has the early years of his career to hone his talents. Under the right manager, he could be one of the standout players in a dominant Celtic team.
Mbemba’s omission from the first team has been one of the few disagreements fans have shared with their Spanish messiah and a his exit could ultimately come back to haunt Benitez.
Considering Rodgers impact when it comes to developing talent, his impact on Mbemba could see Newcastle fans ruing the Belgian defender’s departure.
John Hartson is right, as Celtic go backward to Ronny Deila level
Celtic are out of the Champions League following defeat to AEK Athens.
Celtic are out of the Champions League and it is certainly not a situation that has gone down well at Parkhead. Fans and pundits are not particularly livid at the manager Brendan Rodgers or the players, who undoubtedly gave it their all. But rather it is the Celtic board that is in the crosshairs.
The 2-1 defeat at AEK Athens last night has been seen coming for some time. Despite bringing in Odsonne Edouard in a club record deal this summer Celtic boss Rodgers has been calling for more investment for some time. With only Scott Bain tying up a permanent deal and Emilio Izaguirre returning, the transfer business at Celtic has been otherwise dire.
It was a subject touched upon by former Celtic player John Hartson. The Welshman, who played 201 times for the Bhoys scoring 109 goals, tweeted:
Scratching my head as to why the Celtic money men wouldn’t back a manager that has had so much success.. you have to keep moving forward.. in particular when you are so dominant financially!!
— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) August 14, 2018
His point is valid. The hard work done by Celtic manager Rodgers to get them where they were at the start of the summer has now been undermined.
Sure, they are still dominating Scottish football, even if Steven Gerrard’s Rangers revival might have some itchy bums in seats.
But in terms of European football? Celtic are now no better off than they were when Ronny Deila got the boot in 2016.
It is hard to hear, but falling to a side like AEK is as comparable to Deila’s struggles against Legia Warsaw, Maribor or Malmo.
Celtic have gone backward from a position where it almost seemed impossible to do so. Hopefully, Rodgers sticks around for the fight.
One to watch: Celtic’s 19-year-old winger Daniel Arzani
Introducing The Boot Room’s 2018/19 One to Watch series…
Not many people saw Daniel Arzani menacing down the flanks of many an A-League pitch in the last 12 months.
Millions of people did, however, see the raw talent that the Australian possesses after three impressive cameos off the bench at this year’s World Cup – a tournament at which he was the youngest player.
And now he will head to Celtic on loan, playing in a league that will provide a sterner physical test while still allowing him to develop in the comfortable surroundings of a strong, attacking team.
An attribute that will be of vital importance in the fledgling stages of the 19-year-old’s career at Celtic is his ability to play on both wings.
At Melbourne City, he constantly changed flanks from game to game – and even during games.
On the right flank, he likes to use his speed to stretch the pitch and make runs to the by-line.
On the left, he enjoys using his incisive dribbling to move inside and head towards the penalty box.
He will be hoping to improve on his production though.
While impressive in the league, his record of two goals and one assist in 1,195 minutes is not particularly stellar.
In saying that, he has shown more than a few glimpses of the underlying raw talent needed to succeed at a higher level.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold glowingly endorsed the move, telling reporters this week, “It’s a big move for the kid. He’s a very intelligent kid. He knows what his plan is”.
With the international retirement of Tim Cahill, many in Arzani’s native Australia are looking towards the 19-year-old to be the face of the next generation.
Weirdly, he will try to grow into that role out of the national spotlight in the confines of Glasgow, Celtic Park and the Champions League.
One to Watch: Celtic’s Kieran Tierney unstoppable down the flank in AEK draw
One to Watch pick Kieran Tierney impressed despite stalemate against AEK.
Celtic’s quest for Champions League football hit a hurdle as they draw 1-1 with AEK Athens at Celtic Park in the first leg of their qualifying tie.
Kieran Tierney, however, can feel absolved of much of the blame.
After being rested on the weekend in anticipation of this game, he looked fresh.
The Scottish full-back was unstoppable on the left-flank, as he constantly put pressure on an AEK defensively line trying to be compact as possible.
He did not allow them to be. He constantly bombarded down the wing, looking to stretch the defence, and he was consistently afforded the room to get into dangerous positions.
In the first half, he almost won a penalty with a direct run towards goal that the referee judged to be just outside the box
The Celtic defender was also instrumental in the build-up to the Hoops’ goal.
His foray into the box led to a deflected pass to Callum McGregor, who made no mistake smashing home to put Celtic ahead.
He also put in multiple dangerous crosses that slid through the penalty area without a Celtic player managing to get on the end of one.
In the second-half, Tierney moved to press forward even higher up the pitch after AEK were reduced to ten men early in the half.
With Celtic struggling to break the deadlock, they switched to a back three, moving the 21-year-old into a more defensive role.
But he continued to make forays forward as the Hoops camped themselves in the Greek side’s half for the final 20 minutes.
While Celtic were denied a first-leg advantage, Tierney will take great confidence into the second-leg after an all-round excellent performance.
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