While Ange Postecoglou has formed a decent partnership in the heart of his Celtic defence this season, there are nevertheless some lingering concerns regarding Carl Starfelt’s ability at the highest level of the game, while Cameron Carter-Vickers is already attracting significant interest ahead of the summer transfer window.
As such, while Celtic will undoubtedly do everything in their power to retain the services of Carter-Vickers at the end of the season, centre-back could still be a position in which the 56-year-old Bhoys boss is once again required to strengthen ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
However, before splashing the cash on a big-money signing this summer, perhaps it would be wise for the Greek-Australian coach to take a closer look at one of the club’s most exciting up and coming players in the position – in the shape of Dane Murray.
Standing at 6’4 tall, the 18-year-old centre-back already cuts an imposing figure in the heart of the Celtic backline.
However, it is not simply his commanding stature that is noticeable about the youngster, but also his cool-headedness in defence, as well as his ability on the ball – with Kieran Maguire noting in an article for The Athletic that Murray has been regarded as one of Celtic’s most promising players from the 2003 age group.
Indeed, the Scotland U19 international has already made his first-team debut, with Postecoglou bringing the teenager on at half-time in the club’s Champions League qualification tie against FC Midtjylland in July of last year.
And, concerning his performance in this fixture, Martin Miller – one of Celtic’s youth team coaches – said of Murray’s display:
“He’s always been the same laid-back character. When I saw him play for the first team, I had a wee smile — a wee laugh to myself — because that’s exactly how he played with the U10s. He never looks rushed or under pressure at all, either in possession or facing up to a player defensively.”
Indeed, it would appear that Murray’s calmness in possession, as well as his ability to both carry the ball and to execute line-splitting passes through to his teammates, are all big strings to the young defender’s bow.
However, it would seem as if there is another characteristic of Murray’s that puts him in incredibly good stead to go on to break into the Celtic first-team – his leadership, with Miller once again stating of the 18-year-old:
“He was chosen to be a captain [of the U12s] because he is a leader through his actions, a leader in terms of his play. He was always a tough character in his challenge, on the ball, and in that respect, he was the complete leader.”
As such, considering his height, calmness on the ball, strength in the challenge and ball-playing ability, it would very much seem as if Murray could be something of the perfect heir to Kristoffer Ajer – the Norway international who sealed a £13.5m move to Brentford last summer.
Indeed, despite his tender age, Postecoglou could do a lot worse than promoting Murray to his first-team squad this summer, as Murray’s father’s claim that “nothing fazes” the young defender would appear to not be wide of the mark.