Former Celtic midfielder Paul Hartley has lauded current Hoops player Callum McGregor, speaking highly of his adaptability to several roles within the team as well as his all-round footballing ability.
Speaking at a William Hill media event [via the Daily Record] ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash against FC Copenhagen, the Cove Rangers manager singled out the 26-year-old midfielder for praise and said that he wasn’t surprised to hear that ex-Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers is keen on bringing him to Leicester in a potential £25m move, as was reported by The Scottish Sun in recent days.
Hartley said: “The way Callum is playing, he could be used anywhere – a holding midfielder or an attacking one, he has everything to his game. He’s just as effective as Scott [Brown] when he sits in, which he’s done often enough in a 4-2-3-1 anyway.
“Wherever he’s used, he brings his range of passing and his game intelligence to the role – and he’s a big-game player. I think he has too much to offer in the final third to play the holding role but he’s proved he can play there. He can do a job at this level for another 10 years because he can drop back.”
The ex-Celtic man added: “He’s the archetypal modern-day midfielder, one who’s able to control the direction and tempo of matches. I’ve seen Leicester City are supposed to be coming back in for him but it would take a hell of a lot of money to take him away from Celtic. I’m not surprised Brendan Rodgers is interested and I’m sure he won’t be the only one. Callum seems to like being at Parkhead but £25m is a lot of money for any Scottish club.”
Hartley is quite right to laud the versatility of McGregor, who this season alone has happily adjusted to several positions for Celtic. While he plays primarily as a central midfielder, he is comfortable with shifting to either an attacking or defensive midfield role depending on the tactical system employed by Neil Lennon. He was also deployed on the right flank in the Scottish Cup win over Partick Thistle and even filled in at left-back in the Champions League qualifying exit to CFR Cluj, although many Celtic fans felt that he was a poor fit for that role in the 3-4 defeat.
Hartley’s assertion that McGregor “has everything to his game” is an emphatic statement, although the 26-year-old’s statistics would suggest that he is a well-rounded footballer. He is key to Celtic’s passing game, with nobody else in the squad matching his 90% accuracy rate from an average of 55.2 passes per match, which is among the highest in the Hoops’ ranks. Just five players in Lennon’s squad can surpass his 1.2 interceptions per game, even if his match average of 0.7 successful tackles per game is among the lower reaches at Parkhead. [via WhoScored]
McGregor also chips in with his fair share of goal contributions, scoring 11 times and providing 10 assists this season. Prior to tonight’s clash against FC Copenhagen, he has scored five goals and set up another six so far in 2020, illustrating how brilliantly he has performed since the winter break.
Considering how impressively the midfielder has performed of late, as well as his evident ability on the ball and his readiness to adapt to multiple positions, it’s little wonder that Hartley has been so forthright in his praise of McGregor.
Celtic fans, what did you make of Hartley’s views on McGregor? Can you see him leaving for Leicester in the summer? Comment below with your views!
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