Celtic confirmed the signing of German-born Poland youth international central defender Maik Nawrocki (22) this morning. The player emerged through the Werder Bremen youth system and featured only seven times before going on loan two weeks after his 20th birthday to Warta Poznan in the Polish topflight.
He spent half a season at Warta where he made only two starts and one substitute appearance before Legia Warsaw made their move and took him on loan for the 2021-22 season. Still 20, this was his breakthrough season and Legia made the transfer permanent last summer. The player has made 43 starts and four substitute appearances in senior football, well below our typical harvesting point in the mid-60s.
Zbyszek, our man in Warsaw, firmly endorsed him. Maik is “great in the air…. Focussed on the game… Good at passing through the lines”. Legia were fending off bids for him from Galatasaray that were close to double what we paid them for Josip Juranovic two years ago, indicating how much more they value Maik.
And wait for it……….. he’s two footed.
Our settled central defensive pairing has a clear hierarchy. Cameron Carter-Vickers rivals the great Virgil in status, while Carl Starfelt sits somewhere beneath the clouds. This is harsh on Carl. Both players are right footed, but Carl carries the burden of playing on the left, presumably because this suits the pair’s merits and weaknesses.
With Cameron not yet match fit, I would expect to see Maik on the left in the games against Wolves and Athletic Bilbao, allowing Carl to play on his natural side. Brendan Rodgers has not worked with any of these players. It will be interesting to see who he selects for the important games in September we discussed earlier.
Virgil was a week shy of his 22nd birthday and had started 50 matches when he joined Celtic. Maybe the sweet spot for central defenders is a little lower than mid-60s.
Welcome to Celtic, Maik.