Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie has delivered his verdict on the future of Hoops defender Christopher Jullien.
The lowdown: Surplus to requirements
The Frenchman returned to full fitness last season following a horrendous spell with injuries but failed to break into Ange Postecoglou’s plans, having been usurped by Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt.
The 29-year-old has found himself way down the pecking order at Parkhead, even behind academy graduate Stephen Welsh and potentially Osaze Urhoghide, who is set to return from a loan stint at KV Oostende. His involvement in 2021/22 was confined to a solitary 16-minute appearance against Raith in the Scottish Cup.
Clearly unhappy with his standing in the squad after one failed attempt to move to Schalke 04, an invested onlooker has given his take on the future of wantaway Jullien and what it means for the Hoops…
The latest: ‘Replace him’
Speaking to Football Insider, McAvennie – who represented the Bhoys on 106 occasions and scored 50 times – suggested that Postecoglou would need to sign a successor for Jullien, who may not be suited to the Australian’s system.
The 62-year-old said: “The manager has come in with this interpretation of football that, initially, nobody understood, but everyone loves it now.
“I was critical of it, I just didn’t know about it – two fullbacks playing in midfield, couldn’t get my head round it. But he knows what he wants.
“Letting Jullien go, he’s not been playing, even when he could’ve been on the bench he was in the stands, he’s a bit removed from the first team so I don’t have a problem with him going. I think the manager will bring another centre-half in to replace him.”
The verdict: Spot on
It seems highly likely that Jullien – who was hailed by ex-Hoops boss Neil Lennon for an ‘excellent’ display against performance against KR Reykjavik in 2020 – will move on during this transfer window, despite the apparent breakdown of a move to Germany.
Standing at 6 foot 4 and boasting impressive aerial ability (WhoScored), the towering Frenchman strengths lie very much in the defensive department, winning 2.1 tackles per game during his first Premiership season in 2019/20.
What should Celtic do with Jullien?
By contrast, both Starfelt and Carter-Vickers are comfortable with the ball at their feet and playing out from the back, posting 91.3% and 89.5% passing success rates respectively last term, something that Postecoglou is keen to see his centre-backs implement.
In terms of a replacement, having already been linked with Schalke youngster Malick Thiaw, it appears as though an incoming to Lennoxtown would be expected as and when Jullien leaves, with Postecoglou unlikely to put total faith in Urhoghide, Welsh and fellow youngster Dane Murray as backup options.
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