When Neil Lennon suddenly admitted this week that they’d received an offer for Jeremie Frimpong, it caught the Celtic fanbase by surprise.
Frimpong hasn’t been one of the first names on the teamsheet this term but in recent weeks had made it clear to the management that he wanted to leave.
Though, to hear he was leaving this late in the window was somewhat of a shock. The Dutchman consequently joined Bayer Leverkusen for a fee of £11.5m, marking yet another Celtic player to cross over to Europe’s top five leagues.
It has become a running theme at Parkhead over recent years, and with Odsonne Edouard having suitors in the Premier League, it will probably happen again in the future.
Celtic are fortunate they have a number of promising young players in their ranks though. Karamoko Dembele and Cameron Harper have both received senior minutes this term but we want to discuss someone that’s never been seen in the Bhoys’ first-team.
That happens to be Lee O’Connor. Like Frimpong, the 20-year-old swapped Manchester for Glasgow in 2019 but this time he was coming from the red side, rather than the blue side.
Since arriving, he’s yet to work his way into Lennon’s plans but ahead of next season that could well change. After all, Celtic are now light in the right-back area and will be searching for replacements.
The Irishman is currently on loan at Tranmere in England’s fourth tier but there are certainly reasons to believe he has the potential to thrive at Parkhead.
Speaking about the defender in 2019, John O’Shea only had positive words to say: “I did a thing for MUTV, United were playing Reading U23s and I saw Lee up close and other people had been talking to me about him and I’d been trying to keep an eye on his career.”
O’Shea continued: “Look he was quality, top quality on the pitch. He looked very comfortable, he went right-back to left-back in a breeze, it was no problem to him.
“He has a fantastic future ahead of him,” he concluded.
But what is the youngster’s play style? Well, he doesn’t rampage forward as much as Frimpong did for the Hoops, but crucially, he’s adept defensively and comfortable with the ball at his feet.
When O’Connor signed for Tranmere, their former manager Mike Jackson commented: “He is a young lad with an excellent pedigree, and we are looking forward to him. He has a lot of ability, he is good on the ball, he will fit into the group well. He fits the way we want to play.”
To compare the two players, there are some clear differences. For starters, O’Connor is actually better in the air than Frimpong. The former Celtic man has won just 0.7 aerial battles per game this term. The Tranmere loanee, meanwhile, has prevailed in 1.3 aerial duels.
Of course, there is plenty of work ahead for O’Connor to make his way into Celtic’s plans but he’d certainly be a cost-effective way of replacing the Dutch sensation.