Celtic striker Jonathan Afolabi is reportedly a target for several prospective suitors in England, with manager Neil Lennon believed to be open to the idea of letting the youngster go out on loan.
Football Insider reported that numerous clubs from English Leagues One and Two are hoping to strike a deal for the 20-year-old before the end of the January transfer window, adding that Lennon is willing to listen to loan offers for him so that he can gain first team experience elsewhere.
According to Football Insider, the youngster is keen to play at senior level rather than constantly being given a diet of youth and reserve team action.
Afolabi joined Celtic last August, leaving Southampton off the back of some impressive performances for Republic of Ireland at the previous month’s European Under-19 Championship (as per RTE). He has distinguished himself at times for the Hoops’ youth and reserve sides, with an exquisite lob in a game against Motherwell in December and an apparently outstanding display in a friendly against Chelsea last week.
However, the young forward, who turned 20 last week, has yet to be even considered for a competitive first team game by Lennon five months after coming to Parkhead. He would also have seen Celtic adding to their centre-forward options with the recent signing of Patryk Klimala, as well as Leigh Griffiths rediscovering his scoring touch in last weekend’s Scottish Cup win over Partick Thistle, not to mention the 16 goals of Odsonne Edouard so far this season.
His exclusion from the Hoops’ Europa League squad meant that, even when they had nothing to play for when they travelled to Romania to face CFR Cluj having already guaranteed themselves as group winners, the Irish youngster couldn’t be drafted in for a senior club debut. Plus, with only two points separating them from Rangers, the Premiership title race could easily go to the wire, which wouldn’t afford Lennon the luxury of throwing in youngsters and fringe players towards the end of the campaign.
With Afolabi not even making a matchday squad for Celtic’s first team and Klimala being added to the competition for a centre-forward berth, the 20-year-old would appear to have faint prospects of getting his chance at Parkhead in the foreseeable future.
Therefore, a loan move to an English Football League club for the remainder of the season could benefit him if it enables him to get first team minutes, in which case he could then return to Celtic in the summer bolstered by obtaining valuable senior experience and better placed to get his bow at Parkhead.
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