Celtic Target This Defender As Replacement For Simunovic: Will He Fit Into Lennon’s System?

Celtic Are Interested In Mark McKenzie Of Philadelphia Union - McKenzie looks on
Sunday, September 29, 2019: Philadelphia Union defender Mark McKenzie 4 in the first half of the match between Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium, in Columbus OH. Mandatory Photo Credit: /Cal Media. ..Philadelphia Union 0 - Columbus Crew SC MLS, Fussball Herren, USA 2019: Philadelphia Union vs Crew SC SEP 29 PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY - ZUMAc04 20190929zafc04306 Copyright: xDornxBygx

According to a recent report by the Daily Record, Premiership giants Celtic are said to be eyeing up a summer move for the services of Philadelphia Union’s American international centre-half Mark McKenzie. It has been suggested that the Celtic fans splashed the cash on over 50,000 season tickets this summer, to ensure that the club’s ambitious transfer market agenda for the upcoming season is properly bankrolled. Celtic are said to be monitoring several centre-halves, with McKenzie one of the names being touted.

While the report has clarified that Celtic are interested in Mark McKenzie of Philadelphia Union, whether or not they can lure him to Glasgow remains to be seen. It has been claimed that the American is being targeted as a potential replacement for Jozo Simunovic, who was recently released by the Celts at the end of his tenure at Parkhead. The defender is said to have just 18 months left on his current contract with Philadelphia Union, and it’s further been revealed in the report that the Bhoys would be able to acquire him for a fee lower than £1m in the summer.

What Is Celtic’s Current Defensive Situation?

Having recently allowed Jozo Simunovic to walk away from Celtic Park for free, Neil Lennon is absolutely going to need a new centre-half before the start of the next campaign. Although the Croatian’s departure is sure to have a negative impact, the biggest worry for the manager will be the question marks surrounding the future of Kristoffer Ajer. The 22-year-old has been the talk of the town around Parkhead for a while now, and his potential departure would leave a massive gaping hole right in the middle of the Celts’ back-line.

Although Lennon does have alternate options to choose from at his disposal already, depending on the likes of Hatem Abd Elhamed and Jack Hendry on a regular basis would be like searching for trouble. Christopher Jullien offers the Celts’ only secure name at the back right now. Whether or not Ajer does leave the club this summer could define the kind of player that Lennon will target. If the youngster does choose to sadden the Parkhead faithful and leave though, the Bhoys will need to bring in a first-team quality defender next season.

Celtic Are Interested In Mark McKenzie Of Philadelphia Union - McKenzie during a match
LOS ANGELES, CA: United States defender Mark McKenzie 4 runs during an International Friendly, Länderspiel, Nationalmannschaft soccer match against Costa Rica on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire SOCCER

What Makes Mark McKenzie A Good Option For Celtic?

The young American’s reputation has been headed in the right direction over the last couple of seasons, and his form has been highlighted by the fact that he was recently called up to play for the national team as well. A left-sided central defender by trade, McKenzie boasts the physical and mental attributes required to be deployed at left-back too.

The 21-year-old is a little over 1.8m tall, meaning that he tends to deal with aerial balls into the box well. More importantly, the USA international is renowned for his ability to read the minds of opposition attackers and cut out even the most unpredictable of passes.

Celtic Are Interested In Mark McKenzie Of Philadelphia Union: Why Lennon Must Sign Him Up

The Celts’ have been on the lookout for new defenders, and with good reason. In Jullien, they boast a tall player who tends to position himself well but needs to be more consistent against set-piece situations. The addition of a player like McKenzie would not only help develop the youngster but would also bring the best out of whoever he’s partnered with. The American possesses the presence of mind and awareness required to read an attacking play. When that’s combined with the physical prowess of the other Celtic centre-halves, it could end up yielding quite positive results.

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.