Celtic Target ‘Dreams Of Playing In The Champions League’: Should Lennon Look To Sign Him Up?

Celtic Are Interested In Philadelphia Union’s Mark McKenzie - McKenzie in action
REUNION, FLORIDA - JULY 14: Mark McKenzie #4 of Philadelphia Union controls the ball during a Group A match against Inter Miami CF as part of MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 14, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

According to a recent report by the Daily Record, Celtic target Mark McKenzie has opened the door to a potential European move by admitting that he dreams of playing Champions League football in one of the continent’s bigger football clubs. Record Sport had initially linked the American centre-half to the Scottish giants Celtic last month, as the Parkhead chiefs looked to find a readymade replacement for the recently departed defender Jozo Simunovic. It has also been claimed that the Celts have already scouted the youngster on multiple occasions.

Although the fact that Celtic are interested in Philadelphia Union’s Mark McKenzie has been clarified in the report, convincing the promising youngster to choose Parkhead will certainly not be a straightforward affair. Despite having around 18 months left on his current contract, it has been reported that the player could be available for as low as a £1m. Speaking on the matter, McKenzie said, “As a kid, you dream of playing at the top clubs in the world. Playing in top leagues and in Champions League and whatnot. It’s always a blessing to be able to draw interest from clubs in Europe.”

What Is Celtic’s Current Defensive Situation?

Neil Lennon’s side doesn’t have the strongest defensive roster in the world at this point, in that they currently only possess three natural centre-half options to choose from. Kristoffer Ajer has been the talk of the town around Parkhead for a while now, and as good as he is, depending on a 22-year-old to deliver the goods consistently is asking for trouble. The Norwegian giant is a solid presence in the box, but there do exist a couple of attributes where Ajer just doesn’t offer enough.

Apart from the youngster, the Celts’ other two options are Christopher Jullien and Hatem Abd Elhamed. The 27-year-old Frenchman is perhaps one of the regulars that Neil Lennon tends to utilise, with Abd Elhamed coming into the side only when there is the need for a back-up.

Celtic Are Interested In Philadelphia Union’s Mark McKenzie - McKenzie in action
Alan Pulido #9 of Sporting Kansas City fights for the ball with Mark McKenzie #4 of Philadelphia Union during a quarter final match of MLS Is Back Tournament between Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 30, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Although Jullien does look secure at the back, for the most part, he tends to display the occasional lapse of concentration, which is arguably what is tempting them to acquire another defender. Jozo Simunovic was also an option last season, but he was surprisingly released by the club earlier this summer.

What Makes Mark McKenzie An Attractive Option For Celtic?

The American centre-half is a product of the Philadelphia Union youth academy, which is where he currently plies his trade as well. A left-sided defender by nature, the youngster is more than capable of slotting in on the other side, or even at left-back if required. Despite being 1.8m tall, McKenzie boasts good pace as well as reflexes for a man of his stature, while he tends to offer a certain degree of dominance against aerial crosses into the box. The defender had been handed his national debut earlier in the year as well, which means that he has got the quality required to deliver the goods at the highest level.

Celtic Are Interested In Philadelphia Union’s Mark McKenzie: Smart Move For Lennon?

Going into any league campaign with just three options to choose from in the central defensive role is the perfect recipe for disaster. One single injury would have the potential to destroy their entire season, and considering what’s on the line for Celtic in the Premiership this time, a new defender becomes all the more essential. The loss of Simunovic will surely have a negative impact on the strength and depth of the Celts’ back-line, which is why signing a prodigious defender like McKenzie could be a step in the right direction.

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