According to the latest reports from the Scottish Sun, Celtic are set to confirm their first signing of the January transfer window as American right back Manny Perez should sign a contract on January 1 after the youngster impressed in his trial at Celtic Park.
The 19-year-old currently plays for North Carolina State University and had even represented the USA u-20 side. Perez gained prominence when he was named Player of the Year in the US Soccer Development Academy and it seems clear now that he is destined for big things.
Right back is one of the areas where it was expected the Hoops would strengthen as both Mikael Lustig and Cristian Gamboa had entered into the final year of their contract. Lustig had been linked (The Scottish Sun) with a move to Swedish club AIK in the summer, and it remains to be seen whether Rodgers would extend his contract after this season. We believe it is likely that Cristian Gamboa would be let go after his contract expires.
It goes without saying that Perez is not going to be the first choice option at the moment as one wouldn’t expect a University player to thrive straightaway for the Scottish powerhouse. It is clear that the 19-year-old is one for the future and he would have to bide his time with the reserve squad before he sees any first-team action.
Perez is in the mould of all modern day full backs as he is attacking in nature and loves to bomb forward. So much so that he can even turn out as a winger when required, but it is likely that the Bhoys are seeing him as a future right back prospect.
This season, the performance of Swedish fullback Lustig has been under par, and it is clear that the 31-year-old’s best years are behind him. However, if the club doesn’t do any other business in the right back position, we believe that Lustig would be offered a new contract. The player also sounded confident (The Scottish Sun) when he was asked around a month back about his future at Park Head.
Rodgers also needs to think about the short term first-team options as Perez is likely to be a long-term one. We can maybe expect another right back being signed by the club in the summer if Lustig’s contract isn’t extended.
It remains to be seen how Perez would turn out as this is the first big break of his career. The Bhoys would hope that either of Perez or academy product Anthony Ralston would come good in the next few years to establish themselves as a regular at Celtic Park. For now, we believe the signing of Perez was the right one as long as he is the long term option at right back.