Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Celtic Facing Competition For Highly-Rated Greek Ace: Why Neil Lennon Must Win This Race

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Nikhil Vinodh
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According to a recent report by Greek news source SDNA, Celtic are said to be interested in acquiring the services of AEK Athens shot-stopper Vasilios Barkas this summer, with last campaign’s first-choice – Fraser Forster, set to return to Southampton at the end of his loan spell. The report suggests that the Celts have been interested in the stopper for several months now, but that they have recently returned with interest in him, owing largely to their existing concerns in the position between the sticks.

While the report has clarified that Celtic are keen on Vasilios Barkas, it has been suggested that the Bhoys aren’t alone in the race for the Greek ace’s signature. The same source had reportedly claimed in the past that Montpellier and Basel were also in for the stopper’s services this summer.

With that said though, the report has gone on to add that an unnamed club have now entered the battle for the Athens man’s signature. Although SDNA hasn’t named the team, it has been suggested that they are from a ‘better competition’ than the Premiership.

What Is Celtic’s Current Goalkeeping Situation?

Neil Lennon’s side were the dominant force in the Premiership all through the season, and as good as the attacking players were, a lot of the credit must fall onto the shoulders of Southampton loanee Fraser Forster. The Englishman was the third-choice at St.Mary’s before his switch to Parkhead, and since the move, he has gone on to rejuvenate his career effectively. Formerly a forgotten man in the Premier League, the Saints man pulled out all the stops this season to ensure that the Celts maintained their place atop the table.

Celtic Are Keen On Vasilios Barkas - Barkas dives to catch the ball
ATHENS, GREECE – OCTOBER 23: Vasilios Barkas of AEK Athens saves the ball on the goal line during the Group E match of the UEFA Champions League between AEK Athens and FC Bayern Muenchen at Athens Olympic Stadium on October 23, 2018 in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Scott Bain and Craig Gordon were the alternate options for the role, with the former being the second-choice, ahead of the veteran Scot. With Forster’s loan deal at Celtic set to expire soon, and the massive uncertainty surrounding the future of Craig Gordon, it would be in the club’s best interest to try and acquire a first-team replacement. Scott Bain, as good as he has been in glimpses, is far from being a player that can be depended on regularly in the Premiership. The acquisition of a more secure option between the sticks could go a long way for the Bhoys this summer.

What Would Vasilios Barkas Add To This Celtic Side?

The AEK Athens man displayed solid form all through the last league campaign and looked like the kind of player that would do well in the gritty and physical nature of British football. The 26-year-old boasts good height as well as reflexes, and despite his sheer size, he tends to offer good reactions and passing ability from his position between the sticks. The stopper played in 20 Super League appearances for Athens this season, a period during which he notched up ten clean sheets, and conceded just 15 goals.

Celtic Are Keen On Vasilios Barkas: Why Lennon Must Sign Him Up

The Hoops will be hoping to secure a record-breaking tenth straight league title next season, and going into the campaign with Scott Bain as the first-choice could end up having dire consequences. Barkas has proven with his exploits throughout the last couple of seasons that he’s got what it takes to develop into a top European goalkeeper. At 26, the Greek stopper would offer Lennon the right balance of talent and experience, and given the right kind of training and nurturing; he could develop into quite the stalwart at Celtic Park.

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