Celtic Can Replace Scott Brown The Player But They’ll Struggle To Replace Brown The Captain

News broke yesterday that Celtic captain Scott Brown would be leaving the Parkhead side in the summer, with the midfielder agreeing to become a player-coach at Aberdeen (Source BBC Sport).

Can Celtic replace Scott Brown the footballer?

Simple answer yes.

That’s not to say that Brown wasn’t a fantastic player for The Hoops because he undoubtably was, you don’t win all the honours he has as a player without being of a high standard.

Former boss Brendan Rodgers paid Brown a big compliment, stating the battling midfielder could’ve broken into the Liverpool midfield and held his own in the Premier League:

“The biggest compliment I can give him is – having worked in what is supposedly the best league in the world in terms of being the most competitive – if I look at my Liverpool team that nearly won the title, Scott Brown would definitely have been in it,”

“There’s no doubt about that. So that’s the level the guy is at as a player and as a captain, you want him on your team and on your side.”

Via The Daily Record

Celtic’s failure to find a natural successor for Brown has been an issue though. They’ve struggled to bring in good defensive-minded midfielders in recent years.

Eboue Kouassi was an expensive experiment that didn’t work out and he’s now plying his trade in Belgium (Source Glasgow Live). Youssouf Mulumbu was probably brought in to give Brown the opportunity to rest at certain points during a campaign, yet the Congolese international played just once in the Scottish Premiership for The Hoops before leaving after a year.

Nir Bitton is still at the club but you see him deployed more as a centre-back than as a holding midfielder these days.

Ivorian starlet Ismailia Soro looks like he’ll be tasked with that job, although I’d expect Celtic to sign another defensive midfielder to give him some competition.

Within the last two seasons, Brown hasn’t been as dynamic or as present as he once was on the football field. To be fair, he’s thirty-five years old and will be thirty-six in June. Father time catches up with us all.

Celtic’s midfield looks to be in good hands with the likes of David Turnbull, Callum McGregor and Soro already there. Whether Olivier Ntcham and Ryan Christie remain at the club beyond the summer remains to be seen but if they do leave then replacements will come in.

That’s not to say that Aberdeen will be getting a spent force in the veteran. I think Brown will revel in his new post. His winning mentality and his experience should prove to be invaluable at Pittodrie especially for someone like Ross McCrorie.

Yet what Celtic will find much harder to replace is Scott Brown’s aura at Celtic Park.

For the last fourteen seasons Brown has been there in the heart of Celtic’s busy engine-room. He has bullied opponents, he has geed up teammates and he has been the bridge between the the players and the higher-ups at Parkhead.

Scott Brown was the leader, both on and off the pitch.

Looking at the Celtic squad as it is now, is there someone there that can step into that role?

I don’t think so.

I would wonder about McGregor in the past. He’s an extremely loyal servant and he would bleed for his club. But he doesn’t get in opposition faces, he isn’t a shouter or someone who will influence officials. He’s went missing at times during this dreadful season.

Kristoffer Ajer might be one that has it but I’m not convinced the Norwegian will stay beyond the summer.

People suggested Shane Duffy would be captain material when he signed last summer but that move just hasn’t worked out on any front.

Kieran Tierney probably has that attitude and spark but he’s obviously at Arsenal now.

When things went wrong this season, no one seemed able to grab things by the scruff of the neck and drag the team forward. Even Brown seems to have lost that ability.

These players don’t just grow on trees either. Celtic will find it hard to get someone that will instantly have that presence. Maybe it will have to come from the new manager.

Celtic will be desperate to pin down a new recruit (whether it be a defender or midfielder) that can add the passion, the combativeness, the (dare I say) arrogance and the leadership qualities that Scott Brown brought to the table. Those qualities influenced teammates and helped secure a lot of trophies for the Hoops trophy cabinet.

It will prove to be another huge and tough task that the Celtic hierarchy need to solve during this all important off-season!

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