ANGE POSTECOGLOU has made the world of a difference at Celtic.
And former treble-winner Ramon Vega is backing the Greek-Australian manager to continue searching the globe for fresh talent to strengthen his Hoops squad for the challenges that are ahead in the home and European fronts.
The ex-Switzerland international defender, who had a convincing season-long loan at Parkhead after being brought in by Martin O’Neill from Spurs in 2000/01, is impressed by the way Postecoglou has put together his championship-winning jigsaw after just over a year in the job.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou with Joe Hart.
During his first transfer window, Neil Lennon’s successor brought in players such as Liel Abada (Israel), Carl Starfelt (Sweden), Kyogo Furuhashi (Japan), Josip Juranovic (Croatia), Giorgis Giakoumakis (Greece) and Liam Scales (Republic of Ireland).
English-born double-act Joe Hart, 75 times-capped No.1, and centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers, an international at the US, birthplace of his father, also arrived from Spurs. The rugged back-four operator cemented a permanent four-year deal earlier this month, as CQN reported.
Portuguese winger Filipe Jota arrived on a season-long switch from Benfica and a contract is about to be rubberstamped in the near future.
Glasgow-born James McCarthy, capped 43 times by his adopted country Republic of Ireland, also arrived in the summer while Postecoglou was busy in the January window bringing in three J-League stars in Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi to catch up with their compatriot Kyogo, England-born Matt O’Riley, now a Danish Under-21 international, and Johnny Kenny, highly-rated striker from Sligo Rovers.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou with Reo Hatate.
Now Postecoglou has been linked with targets such as Argentinian left-back Alexandro Bernabei, Iraq defender Mohanad Jeahze, Brazilian midfielder Vinicius Souza and Benjamin Siegrist, the Swiss keeper who quit Dundee United at the end of the season.
Vega said: “The Japanese players have had a big impact at Celtic and there is no question that the world is getting smaller when it comes to player recruitment.
“South American players, for example, have long been going to major countries in Europe and succeeding at the highest levels.
“You can see that South American players have a proven track record and I think it is very good that Celtic are looking into every market.
“When you know that you are going into the group stages of the Champions League and that you are going to be facing the very best, you need to be geared up and ready.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou with Matt O’Riley.
“It’s about quality. It has nothing to do with the country. It’s about the level of ability.
“Of course, there are concerns about integration, that’s the same with any new player when he goes to a new country and a new club.
“But Celtic didn’t seem to have any problems last season with the way the manager was able to get many people from many different countries and make it work.”
Vega, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “It is not dangerous. Look at Real Madrid. They are the champions of Europe and they have players from all over the place.
“As I said, it’s about the nationality of the player, it’s about the character of the player and the talent that he possesses.
“Is he going to integrate into the squad? Is he going to integrate into the football? As long as the answers are yes, nationality is irrelevant.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou with Liel Abada.
“Culture-wise, you have to fit into things, but managers and team-mates are helpful to integrate quickly and you can see that has already been the case at Celtic.
“If the player is of sufficient talent, he will do well and it is good to have that mix and also to have intent to look far and wide.”
Vega is delighted the £6million deal for Carter-Vickers is over the line and added: “There is no question he is one of the best players at the club and it is terrific that he has been signed for the long period.
“The season before last was not good for Celtic defensively. They made mistakes and lost bad goals. Last season had a strong look and there was communication.
“You could see the confidence Carter-Vickers provided. That shone through the whole team going forward.
THAT’S MY BHOY…Ange Postecoglou with Kyogo Furuhashi.
DEFENSIVE DOUBLE-ACT…Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt.
“It gave the central midfielders the freedom to go and do their jobs and also to the wingers and the forwards to do theirs.
“The key part is your foundation. To have a solid base. Once you have that, you can really build as a team going forward.
“Carter-Vickers is quite young and, if he really performs well in the future and in the Champions League, he could be valued at double that amount in going back to England in four or five years.
“If you have paid £6 million and then you keep qualifying for the Champions League, then that money is worth it.
“I think he has improved massively at Celtic. It has put him back into the game, he’s enjoying it again and he’s confident again.”