Celtic supporters in the Transfer Tavern are eagerly anticipating the rest of the summer transfer window, what with their side eyeing up the reinforcements that can continue their domination of football north of the border.
Brendan Rodgers’ men once again swept all that came before them this season in winning the Scottish Premiership, the Scottish Cup, and the Scottish League Cup, in turn securing back-to-back domestic trebles. And while those achievements deserve huge credit, the Bhoys will be seeking improvement on the European stage next season, having fallen to Zenit St Petersburg in the last-32 of the Europa League this time round.
Yet their European hopes for the 2018/19 season may have already suffered something of a setback following the news that Belgium defender Dedryck Boyata has made Roberto Martinez’s final 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup.
And as The Daily Record rightly point out, this World Cup call is likely to rule the centre back out of their opening qualification matches for next season’s Champions League, which is why manager Rodgers must seek to reignite his interest in £5.4 million-rated ace Chancel Mbemba (as per Transfermarkt) to provide much-needed defensive cover.
Ultimately, Rodgers looks set to be without influential defender Boyata given that the first leg of the first qualifying round of the Champions League takes place on the 10th and 11th July, which coincides with the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia.
As such, the Celtic boss will need to cater for the 27-year-old’s likely absence – their season would effectively be over were they to slump to defeat next month – and Newcastle’s Mbemba could be that man.
The 23-year-old managed just nine Premier League appearances for Rafa Benitez’s side this term to underline his lowly position in the pecking order at St James’ Park, and with just one senior appearance in 2018, the writing appears to be on the wall for the DR Congo international.
And Celtic were one side reportedly keen on ending his Magpies nightmare back in January but to no avail, but the recent Boyata setback should convince Rodgers to reignite his interest in the defender in a bid to bolster his ranks ahead of their lengthy Champions League qualification bid.
Significantly though, 23-year-old Mbemba has proven during his time at Newcastle that he is an adept defender, be it at centre back or indeed deputising at left back like he did at times this term, and as such it wouldn’t just be a signing to strengthen the squad, he’d provide serious competition to the first-choice centre backs.
And with the former Anderlecht man seemingly available this summer after a disastrous season at St James’ Park, Rodgers must react to Boyata’s somewhat surprising World Cup call by making a move for Mbemba in a bid to bolster his ranks ahead of their Champions League first qualifying round clash next month.
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