Former Premiership striker Noel Whelan believes that the return of Celtic winger Daniel Arzani after a lengthy injury absence could spare Neil Lennon the need to spend money in bringing in a player for that position.
The Australian came on towards the end of the Hoops’ 2-1 win over Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup on Saturday, making his first competitive appearance in almost 15 months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his debut for the club against Hearts.
Whelan thinks that Lennon might not need to purchase a winger after the 21-year-old finally made his return to first team action, telling Football Insider: “You’d think to yourself, do I need to spend money on this position? If he can do a job, he doesn’t need to go out into the transfer market.
“So it’s a good opportunity for Neil to see players he hasn’t seen much of and it’s an opportunity for the players to say ‘hey you don’t need to buy anybody else’ I can do a job. It’s down to the player, it’s up to the player to convince Lennon that he doesn’t need anyone else in that position and that you’re good enough to fight for a place. And I’m there, available and ready.
“Neil will know he’s in a fight for this title, he needs quality players and to be able to use their squad, as they’re in every cup at the minute so there’s a lot of games for Celtic to play. It’s a great opportunity for Neil, and the player may feel like a new signing.”
Whelan’s comment about Arzani being akin to a new signing is understandable given how long the Australian was sidelined and that he had only played one game for the club prior to his ACL injury. He may have featured for just five minutes against Partick Thistle at the weekend but just to return to action after being injured for so long could feel like a seminal moment in the 21-year-old’s career.
Arzani might not have yet had a real chance to show what he can do for Celtic but he was considered good enough by English Premier League champions Manchester City to sign him in August 2018 before loaning him to the Hoops. He also played in all three of Australia’s matches at that year’s World Cup aged just 19, becoming the youngest player to feature for his country in the tournament’s history, which hints at the scale of his potential.
Whelan also makes a good point about the youngster’s return perhaps sparing Lennon the need to go into the transfer market for a left winger, with Celtic trimming their options in this department during the month. Scott Sinclair moved on to Preston earlier in January while Lewis Morgan is set to complete a switch to Inter Miami in the coming days (as per Miami Herald).
The Hoops could be down another left winger later this year if they are unable to turn Mohamed Elyounoussi’s loan move from Southampton into a permanent one, with the Norwegian due to return to his parent club at the end of the season. Having scored seven goals in 13 games for the Scottish champions, the 25-year-old’s absence is likely to be felt by Celtic if they don’t manage to sign him permanently.
As Whelan has said, the long-awaited return of Arzani has the feel of a new signing and could allow Lennon to direct his transfer budget towards other areas of the pitch.
Celtic fans, what did you make of Whelan’s likening of Arzani’s return to “a new signing”? Tell us what you think by commenting below!
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