Michael Stewart has raised some concerns over Celtic’s current first choice goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas after the Hoops failed to come away with a result against AC Milan. The defeat at Celtic Park makes it two in a row for the reigning Premiership champions, who were sunk by rivals Rangers in the Old Firm on Saturday.
Now behind Steven Gerrard’s side by four points in the league, questions are being asked about Neil Lennon’s squad.
“Barkas has not stood out for me,” Stewart told BBC Sport (via HITC). “Compare him to Fraser Forster or even Craig Gordon, he hasn’t shown he can make the big saves they can yet.”
Indeed, the Greece international who is valued at £4.5m has conceded six goals in nine league appearances this season, whilst loan signing Forster finished Celtic’s title-winning campaign with 17 conceded goals in 28 Premiership matches (via Transfermarkt). Barkas could may well slump the Hoops’ defensive record if he continues his inconsistent run of form.
He earned a poor rating of 5.8 against Milan on Thursday after shipping three goals and making just one save. The 26-year-old also struggled with his distribution, misplacing eight of his 11 attempted long balls (as per Sofascore). However, Lennon has just one other goalkeeper to turn to, who made just two appearances last season due to a thumb injury.
Scott Bain is on the roster and could potentially be deployed if Celtic’s defensive struggles continue to become an issue. He played his side’s opening league match of the season before being dropped in favour of Barkas. It seems that Lennon doesn’t have much faith in either of his senior shot-stoppers at the moment, but he must make a swift decision before Rangers capitalise on their slim lead.
As it stands, they have conceded just three league goals this term and are unbeaten in their 11 games played. Their victory over the Hoops gave them the huge boost they needed to eye up a potential title – Lennon and co must shape up if they want to stop their fine run of form and keep hold of their crown. If Barkas keeps playing and producing below par performances like this, he could well cost them the title.