Celtic look set to pull out of a prospective deal for free agent and former Leicester right-back Danny Simpson as they close in on landing an alternative for that position.
The Scottish Sun reported that a trial for the 32-year-old had been cancelled as Celtic move closer to the £1.6million signing of Hatem Abd Elhamed from Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
According to The Scottish Sun, Abd Elhamed will be Neil Lennon’s first-choice right-back for the coming season and Simpson was not keen on a role as the Israel international’s understudy.
He found himself out of favour at the King Power Stadium last season, though, making just nine appearances and starting only three league games after the signing of Ricardo Pereira. He was then released by the club at the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
Unlike some players who tend to get switched between positions regularly, Simpson has played at right-back throughout his career, with only one of his 258 club starts being made elsewhere (he was deployed at right midfield for Newcastle against Everton in 2011, as per Transfermarkt).
Having played almost 400 games in his career, Simpson’s experience could have been an ideal help for Celtic’s young right-back Anthony Ralston to fine-tune his trade.
That will remain the case even if Abd Elhamed joins, with the Israel defender making 45 of his 68 career starts at centre-back.
He has only started five games at right-back, having also been shunted around to left-back, attacking midfield, central midfield and right midfield roles. Prior to May of this year, he had started at right-back just once.
Abd Elhamed would likely offer more than Simpson in an attacking sense, though, having scored four goals and provided one assist in the last two seasons. By contrast, the ex-Leicester man hasn’t registered a single goal contribution since 2016/17.
Abd Elhamed’s versatility should make him a very useful addition to Lennon’s squad if Celtic can get the deal over the line, while £1.6m represents very good value for someone who can adapt to so many positions.
However, the decision to abandon a deal for an unattached and vastly experienced right-back in Simpson in favour of ‘jack of all trades’ Abd Elhamed looks foolish. The English defender should have been earmarked as Lennon’s first choice at right-back, with Ralston learning from him, while Abd Elhamed could instead be positioned elsewhere or put in at right-back when needed.
The Israel defender seems to be a good addition, but the prospective free transfer for Simpson should not have been shelved just because of Abd Elhamed’s impending arrival. Celtic could have done with both players rather than just one.
Celtic fans, are you disappointed that the deal for Simpson now appears to be off? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!
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