Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas recently stated (as per Express) that Celtic need to make six new signings to maintain the gap on Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. One player who has been linked with a move to Parkhead is Middlesbrough’s Paddy McNair according to these reports from TEAMtalk.
The £4.05m rated ace, via Transfermarkt, has struggled for game time over the last couple of seasons. Throughout the 2018/19 campaign with Middlesbrough, the 24-year-old managed just 16 appearances in the Championship, and the season before with Sunderland he racked up the same amount. That means that over the course of two seasons in the Championship, the former Manchester United man has failed to appear in 60 league games.
He hasn’t managed to fire at Middlesbrough, appearing at right-back for four games, right-midfield for five games, centre-back for six games and at the heart of the midfield for seven games. He started just seven games in the entirety of last season’s Championship campaign and made nine appearances off the substitutes’ bench, as well as being an unused substitute in 25 fixtures, so he’s not really had a chance to catch form.
However, McNair was particularly impressive in his Sunderland days, scoring five times in his 16 appearances from both central midfield and defensive midfield. What makes his 2017-18 goals stat so impressive is the fact that Sunderland scored just 52 goals and came dead bottom of the Championship stats via WhoScored, with the club’s top scorer, Lewis Grabban, grabbing 12 goals.
He’s also shown that he can hold his own when it comes to stopping the opposition, as he averaged 1.1 tackles per game (WhoScored) during Sunderland’s 2017-18 campaign, which may not be too pleasing on the eye but four of his appearances came off the substitutes’ bench and he missed 13 games at the start of the season through injury. Therefore, averaging 1.1 tackles wasn’t all that bad, especially as John O’Shea, an established first-team member, averaged exactly the same amount of tackles per game despite starting 20+ more Championship games. Also, Sunderland averaged just 17.6 tackles per game for the whole season and McNair had to work his way in after being sidelined for almost a year, so he did pretty well.
The question is whether or not McNair would fit in at Celtic, and considering that Scott Brown is now 34-years-old and Olivier Ntcham was the subject of interest from Marseille last month (as per Daily Record), it would make sense for the Hoops to at least think about bringing in a central midfielder. And, Celtic’s pursuit of David Turnbull appears to have come to an end as his supposed move has reportedly collapsed (as per BBC Sport), so the Hoops now have another reason to potentially weigh up a move for McNair as an alternative.
He managed to bag four goals in five consecutive starts at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, so providing him with regular minutes could just unlock the best in him if his form at the Stadium of Light is anything to go by.
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