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Celtic: Leo Hjelde could thrive under Eddie Howe

At long last, Celtic supporters can crawl into hibernation and hide for the next few months.

Their long gruelling campaign has come to a close with little fight from the Hoops, drawing their final game 0-0 in a match that typified their woeful season.

This has been a shambolic term from start to finish for the Bhoys as they failed to lift silverware for the first time in a decade.

You can blame Peter Lawwell for the appointment of Neil Lennon or you can blame Nick Hammond for his shoddy transfer policy.

Whatever way you look at it, negativity has found a way to engulf Paradise. Celtic’s home hasn’t lived up to its name this season, housing languid football and toxic protests.

That said, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

Eddie Howe looks set to arrive as the next Celtic boss and with him, he’ll bring a number of new coaches with fresh and vibrant ideas.

After all, the backroom staff he hopes to bring in has been part of a Bournemouth team who have earned a place in the Championship play-offs.

Howe had great success at Bournemouth, a stint that embodied a Football Manager simulation in the real world. He took the Cherries from League Two to the Premier League and then managed to sustain their top-flight status for five years.

Playing an aesthetically pleasing brand of football, the south coast side liked to play with the ball on the deck and with lots of possession.

By doing so, the 43-year-old manager developed Nathan Ake into one of the eye-catching central defenders in England.

Previously of Chelsea, the Dutchman found a home for himself under Howe, developing astutely before Manchester City paid £40m for him last summer.

Who is the bigger prospect?





Ake was a key cog in the machine at the Vitality Stadium, playing out from the back and starting attacks with his incisive passing. During his final season with Bournemouth, he completed over 87% of his passes, a number that’s only improved since joining the Premier League Champions.

At Man City this term, the defender has completed 93.1% of his passes; a particularly impressive number.

With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a great surprise if Howe wanted his defenders to play out from the back at Celtic.

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We'll start with an easier one, who is this Celtic academy player?

This would be perfect for Kristoffer Ajer, someone who registered a pass success rate of 97% against Hibernian last weekend. It would also be ideal for the Norwegian’s protégé; Leo Hjelde.

Dubbed the next Virgil van Dijk by Ross County boss John Hughes, the 17-year-old has caught the eye while on loan at Dingwall during the second half of the season.

He is a special talent, a player that Howe simply has to turn to if he’s handed the reins at Paradise.

Hjelde is a centre-back by trade and plays in a very similar way to Ajer, pressing relentlessly and marauding forward.

Speaking earlier this season, the teenager commented: “Kristoffer is a very good player and he had the same career path like me too.”

He added: “I like to be on the ball and try to create things too but my main priority always has to be defending. I keep in contact with him still. He has been very good to me and he still gets in touch and gives me advice.”

With this in mind, Howe would be foolish not to unleash him at Parkhead next season.

His style of football and the way he developed a promising centre half like Ake suggests he could turn Hjelde into something special too.

In the words of Hughes, he’s got a “massive future.” Celtic need to nurture him and ensure he lives up to the Van Dijk billing.

AND in other news, Celtic can axe Griffiths by landing “terrific” 18-goal gem, he once embarrassed Bitton…

Article title: Celtic: Leo Hjelde could thrive under Eddie Howe

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