Since the departures of Jason Denayer and Virgil van Dijk, Celtic have been exploited at the back time and time again. Injury troubles made it even worse last campaign and new manager Brendan Rodgers is yet to address the daunting issue. When a defence consisting of a full-fledged Nigerian and Danish international concedes against a policeman (In Celtic’s 0-1 loss against Lincoln Red Imps), it’s crystal clear that things are dreadfully wrong at the club.
The shock loss to the minnows from Gibraltar probably acted as an alarm for Brendan Rodgers who looked a bit complacent so far since taking charge at Parkhead. It was clearly visible that a new central defender was a priority but Rodgers could not realise it until putting blushes to the faces of the Celtic fans. However, as they say- “better late than never.”
According to The Scotsman, Celtic have identified Heerenveen teenager Jeremiah St. Juste as the long-term solution to their defensive woes. Celtic are not particularly short on numbers at the back but what they lack is quality and more importantly luck with injuries. From his very first outing with the Bhoys since joining last summer, Jozo Simunovic looked like a real deal but the young Croat’s career at Parkhead has been largely hampered by injuries. In fact, the 21-year-old is yet to return to full fitness.
The less we say about the form of Efe Ambrose, the better it is. You can understand how poor the Nigerian international had been in a Celtic shirt over the last few years when you see Celtic fans booing him. Dedryck Boyata’s debut season was an average one and he could never really fill in the shoes of van Dijk despite getting plenty of playing time. The only solid option for the Bhoys at the back right now is Danish international Erik Sviatchenko who has largely impressed since his January move to the club.
19-year-old St. Juste has come up through the ranks of Dutch side Heerenveen and despite his young age, made as many as 28 appearances for the Eredivisie side last season. St. Juste is exactly the type of a defender Rodgers likes to have. He is quick and very much comfortable with the ball at his feet. For someone who is shorter than 6 feet, St. Juste is quite strong in the air thanks to his athleticism.
Another brilliant trait with which the youngster comes with is his versatility. He is well-capable of plying his trade as a defensive midfielder and Celtic also needs someone who could provide cover for Nir Bitton. Courtesy to his pace, the youngster can be deployed in either of the full-back positions and both positions are craving for depth. Even though the club could sign Kolo Toure, Celtic need to do everything in their powers to bring Juste to Parkhead as he could well be the future. Toure would be more of a short-term signing and the club needs to look at the future with Rangers in the top-flight now as well.