Celtic supporters have been in fine voice in recent times after seeing their side head into the Scottish winter break sat at the summit of the Scottish Premiership table.
Brendan Rodgers’ men went into their encounter with Old Firm rivals Rangers off the back of three straight victories in the league against Motherwell, Dundee, and Aberdeen, and thus full of confidence ahead of their trip to Ibrox. And while the Bhoys were outplayed in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Steven Gerrard’s side, it’s Rodgers’ team that remain top of the pile heading into 2019, and thus the side to beat in their quest for an eighth successive Scottish Premiership crown.
As such, there have been many satisfied Celtic fans up and down the country in recent times, although the future of centre back Dedryck Boyata appears far from certain heading into the rest of the January transfer window, with reports last month suggesting that he would leave Parkhead in the winter market.
Yet Celtic fans would soon forget about the Belgium international were Rodgers to delve into the transfer market for a replacement, with Newcastle United’s Ciaran Clark, who earns £35,000 a week as per Spotrac, the man they must target to minimise the impact of Boyata’s likely exit.
Ultimately, while 28-year-old Boyata didn’t endear himself to Bhoys supporters earlier in the campaign amid a reported refusal to play for the club, he has bounced back admirably as the season has worn on to underline his status as the senior centre back at Celtic Park.
The Belgian ace, who started all three of his country’s group stage matches at last year’s World Cup, has started 13 times in the league for Rodgers’ side this term, in which time the Bhoys have kept a staggering nine clean sheets to emphasise just how integral he has been to the Scottish giants this time round.
As such, his likely departure this month, or indeed in the summer, is sure to leave Rodgers’ side short of defensive quality, which leaves the Celtic manager needing to compensate for Boyata’s inevitable exit by luring Newcastle’s Clark north of the border.
The 29-year-old made the move to St James’ Park back in the summer of 2016 in a bid to help Rafa Benitez’s men secure an immediate return to the Premier League, with the Irishman doing just that with 34 Championship appearances as the Magpies won the title.
Yet the former Aston Villa man has struggled to nail down a place in Benitez’s top-flight side with only 20 appearances last term and just ten so far this time round, with the likes of Jamaal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, and Fabian Schar seemingly ahead of the Republic of Ireland international in the pecking order – Florian Lejeune probably would be as well were it not for injury.
Yet that shouldn’t detract away from what a solid and accomplished centre back Clark is at top-flight level having shone at times for Villa during his lengthy stint at Villa Park – one does not play 164 times in the English top-tier is one is not a seriously handy player.
And with Celtic likely waving goodbye to Boyata at some stage in 2019, Rodgers knows that there will be a big void to fill in his backline if and when the Belgium international leaves – yet it’s a void that can no doubt be filled by Newcastle’s Clark.
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