Celtic Eyeing AEK Athens Goalie As Fraser Forster Alternative: Will He Fit Into Lennon’s Setup?

Celtic Are Interested In Vasilios Barkas - Barkas looks on during a match
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MARCH 27: #13 Vasilios Barkas of Greece looks on during the International Friendly between Egypt and Greece at the Letzigrund Stadium on March 27, 2018 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Getty Images)

According to a recent report by Greek source SDNA, Premiership giants Celtic are said to be targeting the services of AEK Athens shot-stopper Vasilios Barkas this summer, with the Hoops’ head of operations – Nick Hammond, supposedly working on a deal. The report suggests that the reigning Scottish champions are willing to part with up to £5.4m for the keeper’s services and that they could go even higher if they believe that the player can help them keep title rivals Rangers away from the top of the Premiership table.

While the report has clarified that Celtic are interested in Vasilios Barkas, it has also been suggested that last season’s loanee – Fraser Forster, remains the Celts’ ideal choice between the sticks. Although this is the case, the fact that Southampton are reportedly demanding in the region of €20m for the keeper’s signature could prove to be a stumbling block, and that could potentially also be why they’ve started looking at alternate options.

What Is Celtic’s Current Goalkeeping Situation? 

The Celts started the season with three recognised options to choose from for the goalkeeping role, but it was Southampton loanee Fraser Forster who nailed down a place in Neil Lennon’s setup for the remainder of the season. Veteran Scot Craig Gordon was used exceptionally sparingly by the gaffer, while Scott Bain would have felt unlucky to miss out after the arrival of Forster.

The presence of a player of Forster’s experience and quality was a massive asset to Lennon’s side this season. With the Englishman now having returned to the St.Mary’s Stadium, there is the urgent need for a goalkeeping addition at Parkhead.

Craig Gordon – the Hoops’ long-serving stopper, finds himself in a strange situation, wherein his contract with the club has already expired, but there has been no announcement from the Glasgow club about whether or not he’ll be here next season.

Celtic Are Interested In Vasilios Barkas - Barkas gestures during a set-piece
MUNICH, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 07: Vasilios Barkas of AEK Athens gives his team instructions during the UEFA Champions League Group E match of the between FC Bayern Muenchen and AEK Athens at Fussball Arena Muenchen on November 7, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Bhoys announced the end-of-contract departures of some other key players over the last few weeks, but Gordon’s future remains a mystery. What this means is that, on paper, Scott Bain is the only option that Celtic have between the sticks at this point, at least until there’s further clarity about Gordon’s situation.

What Would Vasilios Barkas Add To This Celtic Side? 

Standing at over 1.95m tall, the Greek international shot-stopper would offer quite the presence to any team that’s able to sign him up in the summer. A literal giant between the sticks, the AEK Athens man is still only 26, and arguably has the best years of his career ahead of him.

The former Atromitos Athen man has played in 20 Super League appearances this season and boasts a quite stellar record of just 15 goals conceded and a whopping ten clean sheets. The Greek stopper picked up a further two clean sheets during Athens’ Europa League qualifying run this term.

Celtic Are Interested In Vasilios Barkas: Smart Move For Neil Lennon? 

Although the asking price could become a slight concern for the Celts, their budget of €6m should be enough to snap up the Greek international this summer. At 26, the stopper has good room for development, but his overall size and sheer stature make him a real force to be reckoned with. The Celts’ desire to secure a tenth straight league title next season has been no secret and signing a player of Barkas’ quality would help quite a bit towards achieving that goal next term.

Nikhil has been an avid Chelsea fan for as long as the concept of time has existed and rumours say that he even bleeds blue. Having lived in the UK for 3 years, Nikhil is said to have an excellent understanding of the atmosphere surrounding the English game. His role model is the greatest manager of all time - Jose Mourinho.