Celtic manager Neil Lennon is plotting a move for a former Hoops midfielder currently out of favour at an English Premier League club – and it isn’t Victor Wanyama.
The Scottish champions had shown an interest in bringing the Kenyan back to Parkhead in January, as reported by The Guardian last month, but Football Insider claimed last week that Celtic might not be willing to adjust their wage structure to bring in a player earning £65,000-a-week at Tottenham, where has played just four times this season.
According to a report from Football Insider, Lennon has identified Newcastle midfielder Ki Sung-yueng as a transfer target for January, with the South Korea midfielder in the final few months of his contract at St James’ Park.
Ki played 77 times for Celtic during Lennon’s first spell in charge and made 87 appearances in total for the Hoops, scoring 11 goals and supplying 15 assists.
However, the 30-year-old defensive midfielder has been shunted to the periphery at Newcastle under Steve Bruce, making just three appearances all season and not even featuring in a matchday squad since the 5-0 drubbing by Leicester almost three months ago. [via TransferMarkt]
Ki’s statistics would suggest that he is a player in decline. In the 2014/15 season for Swansea, he scored eight league goals, averaged 0.8 shots per match, won 1.4 tackles per game and had an 89.8% passing success rate. [via WhoScored]
Last season at Newcastle, he did not score at all and had match averages of 0.8 successful tackles and 0.5 shots, along with a lower passing success rate of 85.1%. [via WhoScored]
If he were to return to Celtic, he would be competing with captain Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham in the defensive/central midfield sector of the team.
Having taken Fraser Forster on loan for the season and expressed an interest in Wanyama (as per Daily Record), Lennon’s desire to sign Ki in January continues the theme of his leanings towards ex-Celtic players from his first spell in charge at Parkhead.
While the return of Forster has worked out magnificently (just 14 goals conceded in 23 games), Ki looks a shadow of the player who was thriving in the middle of this decade and, with the likes of Brown and Ntcham impressing this season, the Korean would quite likely be a squad player at best if he goes to Celtic in January.
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