Mikael Lustig’s future has been up in the air for quite some time now and Swedish heavyweights AIK were said to be in contact with him. Around two weeks back, a report from the Express emerged that the Swedish fullback could depart from Celtic in the summer. However, Neil Lennon recently gave a clear indication (Daily Record) in an interview that he would look to keep Lustig beyond this summer and the interim manager believes that the right-back has a significant role to play at Parkhead.
What did Lennon say?
The former Bolton boss said, ”First and foremost he is a quality player. He has had his injury problems due mainly to the cumulative effect of games over the past few years. There is a player who has now won eight titles. That says it all. He is still contributing immensely to what we want to do here. He’s a brilliant player and a brilliant boy. I would like to keep him. Mika will know more about his role as he gets older, but as a player, he is very important to what has been done here over the last eight years.”
Should Lustig be handed a new contract?
We think Celtic were pretty clear about letting Lustig leave a few months ago, but now they must have realised that replacing him could be a difficult task. Jeremy Toljan has failed to impress in his time at Celtic Park, and there is no guarantee that a new signing would do better than Lustig.
Moreover, letting the Swedish defender leave could be disastrous for the club as they are also likely to lose Cristian Gamboa and Jeremy Toljan. Letting three right backs go in one window would add undue pressure on the club to sign two right backs atleast in the summer window. By keeping Lustig, they might need just one more option and the new player can take his time to settle in at the club as the Swedish defender can play as the first choice until then.
It’s true that the 32 -year old’s performances have gone down in the past one odd year, but he has shown impressive signs in the latter half of the season. His performance against Rangers and Aberdeen recently confirmed that he can still handle some tough challenges.
Even at this age, he has played 42 games in all competitions for the Bhoys, and it’s clear that he is still their best right back. It’s clear that Lennon wants the defender to stay and the board should oblige by offering him a one or two year contract.