Former Scotland international Steven Thompson has hailed Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor as an “incredibly consistent” player and earmarked him to be a future captain of the club.
The 26-year-old has already made 42 appearances for the Hoops this season and scored his ninth goal of the campaign in Wednesday’s 4-0 win at Motherwell. Having seen him sign a five-year contract with the club last November (as per BBC), Thompson believes that McGregor is future captain material at Parkhead on the basis of his consistently high standard of performances.
The pundit told BBC Sportscene on Thursday [via The Scottish Sun]: “Callum McGregor has become the linchpin of this side. I think the new system is certainly suiting him, giving him a bit more freedom to get forward.
“He’s just so incredibly consistent and so incredibly talented, and he showcased all of his attributes last night. He’s recently signed a five-year deal, he is a future Celtic captain, he’s possibly the best midfielder that’s came through the youth system since Paul McStay. There aren’t enough positives you can say about him.”
Thompson’s remark about McGregor thriving in a “new system” under Neil Lennon is well made, with the midfielder enjoying an excellent start to 2020 following a recent tweak in formation by the Celtic manager. Lennon had used a 4-2-3-1 setup in every Premiership game prior to the mid-season break, by which stage McGregor had scored three goals and provided two assists in the league.
Since the resumption of league action last month, the Hoops have played with a 3-5-2 in four of their five matches, with the 26-year-old scoring twice and claiming five assists, two of which came against Motherwell in midweek. He also found the net in the Scottish Cup win over Partick Thistle three weeks ago, giving him a total of three goals and five assists in six games already this calendar year. [via TransferMarkt]
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Thompson is also right to laud the consistency of McGregor, who has been Celtic’s most-used player this season with 3,756 minutes of game-time and started all 25 Premiership matches so far, playing the full game in 23 of those. The only match he has missed all season was the Europa League trip to CFR Cluj in December, when the Hoops had already won their group and Lennon duly made nine changes to his starting line-up (as per Sky Sports).
Nor is McGregor’s near-constant inclusion in Celtic’s team a recent phenomenon – the club’s official website celticfc.net noted last year that the Scotland midfielder played more minutes in the 2018/19 season than any other professional footballer in the world, clocking up 5,894 minutes of action for club and country in an 11-month campaign. He scored six goals and provided 16 assists last term but, rather than regressing from the enormous amount of game-time that he has had, he had improved his goals tally for this season to nine, as well as registering nine assists.
With all that considered, Thompson is absolutely right to laud McGregor’s ability to regularly contribute to goals for Celtic, as well as his recent spike in form from Lennon’s change to a 3-5-2 formation. Also, having clocked up 266 appearances for the club despite still being just 26, he is not lacking in experience, so he could easily fulfil Thompson’s prediction of him being a future Parkhead captain.
Celtic fans, do you agree with Thompson’s glowing verdict on McGregor? Have your say by commenting below!
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