Mikael Lustig has been the mainstay of the Celtic team in the past few years starting in the right back position almost every game. However, it’s clear that he is way past his prime as he continues to be a liability in defence. In the league, given the quality the Hoops have, the Swedish international is hardly tested as the Glaswegian giants play most of their games on the front foot and are rarely tested defensively. However, in testing times in Europe or even in the league, the 31-year-old is prone to errors, and quite a lot of the opposition attacks builds up from his side of the pitch.
Even RB Salzburg had the number of Lustig throughout the 90 minutes, and most of the attacks were coming down from his side of the flank as the fullback was unable to close down on his man. The Hoops were leading and defending stoutly until Lustig failed to make a proper clearance for the first goal where he allowed the ball to bounce instead of clearing it the first time. Even after that, his closing down of his man was timid and the night turned as soon as the Austrian champions got their equaliser.
This is not just one game and in the past year or so Lustig has been a defensive liability, and therefore we believe Rodgers should give Cristian Gamboa a run in the team. Gamboa has hardly featured since he signed for the club in 2016. So far the Costa Rican has made just 28 appearances for the club and the right back might be a better option as he might be hungry to prove his worth as he is in the last year of his contract. It is extremely likely that the club won’t extend his contract further at this point.
Though, there is every chance that Gamboa may not be that motivated anymore as he might have resigned himself to the fact that he is going to move away from Celtic soon. So the club should make a move in the January transfer window to solve this problematic area.
The Hoops should have good money to spent in the winter window as they sold Moussa Dembele to Lyon for somewhere around £20m. Therefore the club should use some of that money to bring in a proper long-term right back.
However, from what it seems, the club is likely to persist with Lustig for this season at least. The Swede is also in the final year of his contract, and we believe the club shouldn’t think of getting him a new deal. Probably selling him in January could be the right ploy but we highly doubt something like that is happening. In any case, a right back should be on the shopping list of the club in the winter transfer period.