To put things bluntly, this has been a horrendous season for Celtic.
They are 23 points off top spot in the SPFL and it would appear that any way of winning the title is gone.
For Neil Lennon, his job is quite rightly under threat. Everything he’s touched this season has more or less turned to disaster.
Yet, there is one thing he and Nick Hammond deserve some credit for. That’s the deal to bring Ismaila Soro to the club a little over a year ago.
The Ivorian has had to wait patiently for his chance in Glasgow but he is now taking it tremendously. He has been one of a few bright sparks this term and such are his good displays, that Lennon or a new manager must build the team around him.
Soro signed from Israeli outfit Bnei Yehuda for a fee of £2m on 31st January 2020 in a deal that didn’t raise too many eyebrows.
He was an unknown quantity arriving at Parkhead to simply offer more depth. Yet, the £11k-per-week earner suffered a knee injury which meant before this season, he was yet to make his debut in the famous green and white.
Though, Soro has proven in double-quick time that he has more than earned his move to Celtic.
To former coach Ori Guttman, this will come as no surprise. He said in January 2020: “When I saw Soro I was immediately excited. From the first second I noticed his explosive power. His tackling and dribbling skills were incredible. He looked like he had good potential.”
Indeed, his immense future is starting to shine through in this Celtic squad. The 22-year-old has become a colossal individual in the middle of the park and that happened from the moment he was given his first start in December.
Soro produced an absurd ten successful tackles as they remarkably defeated Lille 3-2 in the Europa League. Lennon had no excuse not to start him in the following game against Kilmarnock and coincidentally, it garnered Celtic’s first clean sheet for the best part of six weeks.
Their diminutive midfielder was again vital, producing two interceptions and stopping play with as many as four fouls. It was two successive performances that demonstrated his vast pedigree.
He is a tough-tackling player and since being introduced into the team, Celtic have looked better. They have lost just one league outing Soro has appeared in, with five clean sheets being produced from those nine games.
Clearly, the extra protective layer he has offered in front of the defence has been game-changing.
Despite being a relatively low key addition a year ago, he has had a bigger impact on the Hoops than many would have thought. The deal to bring him to Parkhead was nothing short of outstanding from Lennon and Hammond. The £2m they paid is looking like a huge bargain.