Celtic To Face Rangers Competition In Race For Central Midfielder: Will He Fit Into Lennon’s System?

Celtic Are Interested In Haris Belkebla - Belkebla(L) vying for the ball
Brest's French-Algerian midfielder Haris Belkebla (L) vies with Reims' French midfielder Xavier Chavalerin during the French L1 football match between Stade Brestois 29 (Brest) and Stade de Reims on August 24, 2019 at the Francis Le Ble stadium in Brest, western France. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

According to a recent exclusive report by French news source Le Buteur, Premiership giants Celtic are said to be keen on acquiring the services of Stade Brest’s Algerian international midfielder Haris Belkebla. The report suggests that the club has already received a request from the Parkhead side regarding a potential summer transfer. Although this is the case, it has been further clarified that the French club views the playmaker as an important part of the team and that their first preference would be to keep him in the side next season.

While it has been clarified that Celtic are interested in Haris Belkebla, the report further suggests that the Ligue 1 ace is being targeted by the Hoops’ Old Firm rivals Rangers as well. Steven Gerrard is said to be keen on signing him up this summer, and the Algerian is claimed to be open to a fresh adventure away from France as well. Despite the massive windfall that selling a player of Belkebla reputation could bring for the French team, it has been reported that the club and staff haven’t responded well to the offers that have been put on the table by the player’s agent.

What Kind Of Player Is Haris Belkebla? 

The Algerian international is a central midfielder by position but is just as comfortable playing in a slightly more defensive or attacking role, depending on the immediate requirement. Formerly of French side Tours, he made the switch to join Stade Brestois only in the summer of 2018.

Since making the switch though, the midfielder has gone on to become an extremely important part of this Brest setup. Often seen in front of the back-line, the 26-year-old controls the tempo of matches from his slot in the middle of the park.

Celtic Are Interested In Haris Belkebla - Belkelba(L) strikes the ball
Brest’s French-Algerian midfielder Haris Belkebla (L) vies with Rennes’ French midfielder Jonas Martin during the French L1 match Brest against Rennes on September 14, 2019 at the Francis Le Ble Stadium in Brest, western France. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP via Getty Images)

An excellent distributor of the ball, the Algerian offers incredible vision as well as an almost impossible passing range. Capable of picking out cross-field switches of play, his introduction to the fast-paced action of British football could yield massive results for any of the reported suitors. While Belkebla does tend to spend a lot of his time linking up play in the core of the team, he does offer a decent degree of defensive cover as well, making him a complete midfielder.

The Algerian featured in 23 appearances for the Ligue 1 club throughout the last season and only picked up four yellow cards along the way. While it could be argued that he didn’t make a single goal contribution over the course of the entire fixture, it must be taken into considering that the 26-year-old spends most of his time around the centre circle. Whether or not he’ll be able to settle into life in Scotland remains to be seen, but overall, Belkebla’s skill-set does seem well-suited to the gritty nature of Premiership football.

Celtic Are Interested In Haris Belkebla: Smart Move For Neil Lennon? 

Central midfield has been one of the positions in the team that the Bhoys have been trying to strengthen in during the summer so far. Scott Brown and Callum McGregor have been the first-choice names in the core of the side since the start of the season, but the former’s rising age will be a concern. Moreover, the lack of quality replacements for the aforementioned aces have been a questionable area too. The addition of an experienced player like Belkebla could be precisely what this Celtic team needs to shore up in the middle of the park.

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.