Do Celtic Need A New Centre-Half?

Earlier this week Celtic managed to edge out Norwegian champions Rosenborg and qualify for the Champions League play-off round.

The win over Rosenborg raised some more questions regarding the possibility of manager Brendan Rodgers going back into the transfer market this summer.

Central defender Erik Sviatchenko limped off early on with an injury. There was no like for like replacement and that has people speculating that the Glasgow giants need to add a new centre-half to their ranks.

Do Celtic really need a new central defender? 

Well it all depends on Rodgers and whether or not the Hoops boss has faith in Norwegian youngster Kristoffer Ajer. 

The midfielder come defender enjoyed a decent loan spell at Kilmarnock last season. His performances at Rugby Park received praise from Norwegian national team boss Lars Lagerback:

“We’ve a boy in Scotland for example, Kristoffer Ajer, who has done wonderfully well at just 18 years of age.”

Rodgers and Ajer seemed to come to the conclusion that the teenager was best suited as a central defender and he was used there in the first leg against Rosenborg. He seemed to stroll through that game at Celtic Park and his composure and use of the ball in particular was noted and appreciated by the Hoops faithful.

But Kristoffer wasn’t selected for the second leg and he wasn’t even on the bench. It was odd, especially given Sviatchenko’s injury, that the defender wasn’t in the match day squad.

Rodgers might have left out Ajer to protect the young newly turned defender. The game was on a knife-edge and maybe it was too much pressure for the nineteen year old. Still, I think he should have been on the bench.

It will be interesting to see what Rodgers does on Saturday against Hearts.

Does he recall Ajer or will holding middleman Nir Bitton get the nod to start? Maybe Brendan will plump for one of his fullbacks as both Kieran Tierney and Mikel Lustig have filled in as centre-backs in the past.

If it isn’t Ajer then I’d think he might go out on loan again and you might see the Celtic gaffer make a move for a new centre-back.

Now obviously the Hoops have three reasonably good central defenders in Sviatchenko, Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata but those three have all had injury problems since joining Celtic.

Now maybe Celtic could get by without two of them in the Scottish Premiership but I am not so sure they can if they reach the group stages of the Champions League.

Former £8m defender Steven Caulker has been linked all summer with a move to Parkhead but the England international has recently returned to the QPR first team, so that move might now be a non starter.

Rodgers might not want another established defender who is currently in his prime, as he has three fine central defenders already at the club. Brendan might want a veteran, much in the mould of Kolo Toure who was used as a back-up for most of last season.

Kolo himself might provide an ideal solution. He has been in talks with the club about penning a new deal that will see him stay on as a coach. That contract offer may include him staying on the club’s books and he could come into the first-team picture if needed. His presence in the squad could give Rodgers the experience he craves and also help Kristoffer Ajer while he’s still adapting to his new role within the team.

I think the next week, and in particular the Hearts game, could answer a lot of questions on what Brendan Rodgers has planned for his defence this term!

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