CELTIC target Vinicius Souza has made a huge impression on former Scotland international striker Lawrence Shankland.

The ex-Dundee United hitman faced the 6ft 2in Brazilian twice last season when his side Beerschot took on Mechelen in the Belgian top flight – and lost on both occasions, 3-2 and 3-0.

The midfield anchorman has reportedly caught the attention of Ange Postecoglou with the player being valued at £7.8million by parent club Lommel, as CQN reported last week.

Shankland is an admirer of Souza’s qualities and he said: “I remember playing against him. He’s hard to miss as he’s a tall, athletic guy who makes an instant impression on you as he’s a bit of a machine.

SHOVE OFF…Vinicius Souza shields the ball while playing on loan for Mechelen last season.

“We played Mechelen twice and both times we struggled and he performed well. They’re a good side and Souza is a big part of how they play as he sits in front of the defence and dominates in that area.

“He does the simple things well. The role he performed was as a holding player in the midfield. He doesn’t over-complicate things, he just keeps things ticking over and moving the ball forward.

“He looked technically very good and is a good reader of the game. He puts me in mind of Nir Bitton.

“It would make sense that Celtic are looking for that type of player now that Bitton has moved on. Celtic will have been impressed as he’s had a good season in Belgium and clubs have clearly taken notice.

“Souza has a similar type of stature to Bitton and looks more than capable of going into Celtic and doing a similar job to the one Bitton carried out.”

HAMPDEN HOORAYS…Lawrence Shankland celebrates his only Scotland goal to date after netting in the 6-0 win over San Marino in October 2019.

Shankland, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “From what I saw of him in the two games, Souza is good on the ball and has a presence about him. He’s a big lad and a threat at set-pieces.

“Celtic don’t really carry that threat from midfield in terms of size, but they have boys like Callum McGregor who put in the miles. So it could help complement that and provide a good balance.

“If Souza was beside him then I can see Callum getting a bit more freedom to get about the pitch and get himself further forward with the shackles off him a bit more.

“Souza likes to do the tidying up in the midfield area and hold his position. He is very disciplined in that role.”

The Scottish frontman, who also had permanent spells at Queen’s Park, Aberdeen and Ayr United, added: “Souza arrived in Belgium from Brazil and it says a lot that he can move from the other side of the world and adapt so quickly to a European league.

ON THE BALL…Callum McGregor could have his shackles removed if Vinicius Souza arrives.

“He’s only 23, but he looks far more mature and experienced than he should be for a player of that age. He looks as though he’s been playing that midfield role for years.

“That’s the way he comes across on the pitch and is clearly an intelligent player.

“He’s not someone who goes about the pitch demanding the ball and trying to run the game.

“When we played Mechelen we sat in and they did knock the ball around in front of us. But he wasn’t the midfield controller, he sat in front of the defence and made sure we couldn’t hurt them on the counter-attack.”

Turkish giants Fenerbahce reportedly failed in a £4.3million offer for Souza last week with the enforcer being valued closer to the £8million mark.

Postecoglou has already spent £6million in making Cameron Carter-Vickers’ move from Spurs permanent and is ready to splash £6.5million on Portuguese winger Filipe Jota to extend his stay in Glasgow following his impressive season-long loan from Benfica.

Swiss keeper Benji Siegrist has agreed a four-year deal as a free agent after leaving Dundee United at the completion of his contract.

There may be some haggling ahead if Postecoglou pushes ahead with his attempt to land South American ball-winner Souza.


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