20 players Celtic could possibly target in pre-contract January deals
Celtic managed to bring in six players during the summer transfer window. AC Milan left-back Diego Laxalt was the final addition, arriving on a season-long loan deal. The Uruguayan joins Vasilios Barkas, Albian Ajeti, Shane Duffy, Moi Elyounoussi and David Turnbull through the door at Celtic Park, and the Hoops’ recruitment team will more than likely be turning their attention to the January window. The turn of the year also gives the club the opportunity to explore pre-contract agreement deals with players who are out of contract at the end of the 2020/21 season.
Mohamed Elyounoussi re-joined Celtic over the summer. © Mark Runnacles/Getty Images Sport St. Johnstone v Celtic - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership
The 26-year-old spent last season on loan at Parkhead, making 20 appearances and scoring seven goals in all competitions (Transfermarkt).
He was reportedly hopeful of joining the Hoops on a permanent deal prior to the coming campaign, however, the Norwegian had to make do with a second loan stint in Scotland.
Recent reports from The Atheltic have claimed that Saints officials still believe the wide man, who is valued at £8.55million (Transfermarkt), is capable of making his mark in the Premier League at St Mary’s.
Celtic derby aftermath in quotes from Neil Lennon, players and pundits as 'gutless' performance is picked apart
Defiant messages were mixed with condemnation after Celtic turned in a display to forgetTheir 2-0 defeat at Celtic Park means they now lie four points behind their rivals in the Premiership title race, albeit with a game in hand.
Gallery: Elhamed or Bitton at the back? Does Edouard start? Celtic's predicted XI for the Europa League clash with Riga (Read Sport)
Celtic Predicted XI: Riga FC (A)
A trip to Latvia is on the cards as the Hoops look to take one step closer to the Europa League group stages.
Thursday’s opponent are Riga, the reigning Latvian Higher League champions. They’ll no doubt be prepared to make the one-off tie as tough as possible for Neil Lennon’s men.
They sit four points clear at the top of the table after 19 games, losing just two so far.
They advanced to the third qualifying round after edging out as 1-0 winners over San Marino outfit S.P. Tre Fiori.
Celtic’s path to this stage looks quite different, as we all know. They crashed out of the Champions League qualifiers, Hungarian’s Ferencvaros the side to inflict the 2-1 defeat in Glasgow.
This is the Scottish champions’ first European appearance since that lacklustre loss and they’ll be determined to right their wrongs.
We’re on a good domestic run, winning our last five league matches; though not all by a convincing margin. The question is: does Lennon stick with the three-at-the-back, or does he opt for a flat back four?
His team selection is likely to be one that can alter between the two formations throughout the match, so expect some surprises.
Here’s how we think the manager will have his side lined up on Thursday night.
Celtic fans have their say on Shane Duffy's early Celtic form
It’s fair to say that Shane Duffy wasn’t at his best against Rangers on Saturday. The 28-year-old made his Glasgow derby debut in a 2-0 defeat, his first loss as a Hoops player since signing on a season-long loan from Brighton & Hove Albion. And that has led to a debate amongst several Celtic supporters regarding whether or not the defender should be dropped for this Thursday’s meeting with AC Milan. Duffy, who had more touches than any other player from either side on the weekend, recorded a WhoScored match rating of 6.44 at Celtic Park, dropping way below his season average of 7.67.
GK: Vasilis Barkas
A penalty and a wonder strike for Livi on Saturday; neither goal was Barkas’ fault.
CB: Hatem Elhamed
Could start for the third game in a row. Christopher Jullien hasn’t travelled with the squad due to a back problem, so it’s likely to be either Elhamed or Bitton who features.
CB: Shane Duffy
Certainly earning his place in the team. Set to make his European debut for his boyhood club.
RWB: Jeremie Frimpong
His pace and enthusiasm are exactly what you want from a player of his type, however, his final ball could be improved. Regardless, he’s an extremely useful asset to have down that right flank.
Celtic fans hoping to see Turnbull start against Milan
Celtic host AC Milan on Thursday evening in their Europa League group stage opener. Neil Lennon will be looking for an immediate response from the Glasgow derby defeat to Rangers, in what will be a first meeting with the Italian giants for seven years. Plenty of supporters have made their team selection opinions known on social media in recent days, with many fans hoping to see David Turnbull from the off at Parkhead. The 21-year-old came on for teenager Stephen Welsh for the final few minutes against Steven Gerrard’s side on Saturday, making a fifth Hoops appearance in the process. Only one of his five displays in green and white have come as a starter.
LWB: Greg Taylor
Has made just eight appearances so far, though two have came in quick succession. Start on Saturday and bagged an assist; perhaps Lennon will stick with him on the left, meaning Forrest could start from the bench again.
CM: Scott Brown (C)
A fairly quiet game at the weekend. I can’t see Lennon dropping our captain for a game of this magnitude though.
CM: Callum McGregor
An exemplary performance against Livi earned him the MOTM award. Took his goal wonderfully well and was influential in Ryan Christie’s finish too. A workhorse who can have a devastating impact on any game. McGregor, of course, starts.
CM: Ryan Christie
Essentially played as a second-striker on Saturday. Had a great game, adding a goal and an assist to his season tally. We’ll need his pressing on Thursday.
ST: Odsonne Edouard
Didn’t feature against Livi due to fatigue, according to Lennon. If match fit, he starts. It would be great to see him and Ajeti link-up once again.
However, the player’s recent displays under Neil Lennon haven’t done his future on the south coast any favours.
Elyounoussi, who has been playing in a central role in a 3-5-2 formation, was Celtic’s worst-rated player in a 2-0 win over St Johnstone.
He recorded a WhoScored rating of 6.17 and had to be bailed out by substitute Leigh Griffiths at McDiarmid Park.
Lennon stuck with Elyounoussi for the club’s Glasgow derby with Rangers following the international break, but again, the attacker failed to perform.
He once again drew a blank in front of goal, ending with a WhoScored rating of 6.18, Celtic’s third-worst starter in a 2-0 defeat to Steven Gerrard’s side.
Maybe it’s the system in Scotland, but with Ralph Hasenhuttl looking likely to give the player a chance next summer, his recent showings in the Scottish top-flight won’t be helping his Saints future in any shape or form.
Diego Laxalt receives Celtic 'wall' verdict as French press lay into Olivier Ntcham .
The midfielder failed to make a positive impression on his return to France but there was praise for Laxalt and Moi ElyounoussiFew tipped Neil Lennon's men to get a result against Les Dogues, who are second only on goal difference to PSG in Ligue 1.