Scottish champions Celtic have enjoyed a real revival under manager Ange Postecoglou over the past year, with one of the key figures in that rise having been that of goalkeeper Joe Hart, with the former England international having looked resurgent during his time at Parkhead.
The veteran stopper had seen his previously promising career take a sharp decline following his brutal exit from the Etihad in 2o16, enduring mixed spells at the likes of West Ham United, Torino and Burnley, before ending up as a reserve option at Tottenham Hotspur.
As such, the former Three Lions’ number one had been something of a gamble for the Old Firm outfit as they opted to secure a deal last summer, although the decision has more than paid off with the £23.5k-per-week man proving a crucial figure in last season’s title triumph.
The £1.53m-rated leader boasts an impressive record of 31 clean sheets from his 63 games during his time in Glasgow, having notably been lauded by Italian icon Gianluigi Buffon last term, who dubbed him a “top player” after recapturing his form with the Scottish giants.
While the 75-cap colossus still has just under two years remaining on his existing deal with the club, at 35 it remains to be seen just how much longer he will be able to go on for, with Postecoglou and co potentially needing to plan for his future heir.
The 57-year-old oversaw the signing of former Dundee United man Benjamin Siegrist over the summer, although it remains to be seen if the 6 foot 4 giant is anything more than a steady option in reserve, while teammate Scott Bain has seemingly seen his chance of securing a regular starting berth come and go in his four-and-a-half year spell at the club.
In need of a younger option who can prove to be Hart’s successor, the former Yokohama boss should well turn to 19-year-old starlet Tobi Oluwayemi, with the teenager having impressed in the academy ranks of late.
The Englishman is yet to feature at first-team level, although the expectation is that he will go on to have a bright future, with former youth team coach Greig Robertson having earmarked him as a player to look out for in the near future at Celtic Park, stating:
“Tobi has been in and around the first team and on the bench. I know he is very highly-regarded by Stevie Woods and the guys up there. He came from Tottenham and took a season to settle, but has made big saves at big moments, and as a Celtic goalkeeper that is critical. He’s one that the club in general have high hopes for.”
The former Spurs prospect was part of Postecoglou’s travelling party for the pre-season trip to Austria over the summer, with the title-winning coach having previously provided a glowing assessment of the emerging talent after bringing him into first-team training in January: “Tobi’s an exciting young goalkeeper, we’ve kept tabs on him.
“He was playing with the B team but I feel like it’s time we expose him to our first team environment, particularly at training.”
The Hoops boss also went on to mention the potential benefit that the England U20 international could gain from training alongside Hart, stating:
“He’s a pretty lucky young man because he’s got an ex-England No1 and a guy who has reached the very top as a goalkeeper training with him every day. It’s going to be priceless.
“I didn’t want to waste that opportunity, so we brought him up to the first team environment and he’ll be training with us regularly, and hopefully we’ll watch him develop over the next couple of years.”
The youngster has already gained valuable experience in the youth ranks and for the club’s ‘B’ team so far this term having racked up 11 appearances in all competitions, with a chance at first-team level potentially on the horizon sooner rather than later.
The highly-rated teen will have time to develop in the coming years while Hart remains at the club, although can look to fill his compatriot’s shoes once the senior man does eventually move on.