Celtic’s summer spend continued yesterday with the arrival of 23-year-old Swedish central defender Gustaf Lagerbielke from Elfsborg for a reported £3m fee. At 1.93m, Gustav is tall, 8cm taller than Cameron Carter-Vickers and Maik Nawrocki, only Christopher Jullien (1.96m) was taller in recent times.
Across the squad Celtic are a small team. Purists who still marvel at that Barcelona side will tell you they were the best team ever and the shortest European champions of the 21st century, so height does not make a difference if you are good enough. You will, though, remember that Celtic scored three goals against Barcelona in our 2012 Champions League games, two were from high crosses. At the very least, we need tall central defenders, if not full backs and strikers.
When all are fit and games really matter, Maik and Gustaf will compete for a spot beside Cameron. Normally, I would be reluctant to push a new arrival straight into a big game, but Sunday is worthy of consideration. Cameron retired at halftime after straining a hamstring at Pittodrie, he is not out of contention for the trip to Kilmarnock. He is, however, so critical to Celtic, if he misses the important games next month, it would be a huge blow to the club.
If this was a league game, I would have no hesitation in playing both new central defenders, it is early enough in the season to be able to take a risk. Our League Cup is, however, on the line. I dont’s subscribe to the ‘It’s only the League Cup’ view so cherished by losers. If Celtic were knocked out of a cup tournament in August, it would give an unwelcome boost to everyone else in Scottish football. Fragile managers would see their chance of survival by winning a few more games and collecting some silverware. Brendan has a big decision to make.
Welcome to Celtic, Gustaf. Your arrival is not a minute too soon.