Brendan Rodgers has established himself as a hero at Celtic already and could grab his first piece of silverware in Scottish football on Sunday if the Hoops can see off Aberdeen in the League Cup final. The work the Northern Irishman has done at Parkhead since taking charge this summer is remarkable, to say the least. Still unbeaten in any domestic game this season, Celtic are clearly an unstoppable force in Scotland.
However, no matter how good you are, you should always look for improvements and the same goes for Rodgers’ Celtic. The former Liverpool boss is interested in bringing Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Dale Stephens to the green half of Glasgow in the summer if reports from Express are to be believed. The English midfielder’s contract runs out at the end of this season and he is believed to be stalling over signing an extension and Celtic are looking to use that opportunity.
Stephens is among the best midfielders in the Championship in recent seasons and is pretty much deserving of a step up now in his career. He has worked his way up through the divisions, playing for Oldham Athletic and Bury, before moving to Charlton Athletic in 2011 and then Brighton in 2014. Now, he is 27 and looking for step up is not at all surprising.
However, there is a major question mark on Celtic’s capability of luring the Englishman to Parkhead. Brighton narrowly missed promotion to the Premier League last season and this term, they are sitting second in the table, five points behind Newcastle United. If the Seagulls can manage to get promotion this season, Celtic could well lose out on their approach for Stephens.
A box to box midfielder is Celtic’s prime target which is clearly visible. Nir Bitton is predominantly a defensive midfielder and is finding it hard to do well in Rodgers’ two-man midfield. Rodgers wants both of his midfielders to be solid both defensive and attacking wise and Stephens can be an ideal player in his system.
Stephens has played 13 games in the Championship this season for the Seagulls and has scored once. The Englishman’s passing range and composure are his biggest strengths. 89% passing accuracy is quite an impressive figure. Stephens also has a good eye for long-range passes and has played 3.8 long balls every game this season. Despite being just 5’7″, Stephens is quite decent when it comes to aerial abilities. He won 1.4 aerial balls every game this season.
Despite being just 5’7″, Stephens is quite decent when it comes to aerial abilities. He won 1.4 aerial balls every game this season. On top of that, the Englishman is a brilliant set-piece taker and offers a decent defensive discipline too. Still only 27, he has plenty of football left in him and can be a big success at Parkhead.
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