Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed is reportedly set for a move back to his native Israel after struggling to adapt to life away from his family. Neil Lennon confirmed to Sky Sports that a permanent transfer is close to being completed and the £14,000 per week defender will be calling time on his era in Scotland.
The Celtic boss said: “He has had a really difficult time. His wife and young son are back in Israel and life away from the training ground and the club has been very difficult for him. I think the deal is almost agreed. We wish him all the very best.”
Whilst this is a move that will hugely benefit the player, the Hoops will be in a very sticky situation without having him as an option in their roster. Aside from Kristoffer Ajer, their other senior central defenders have either been out of form, or out injured, with Shane Duffy finally dropped to the bench after a series of woeful displays, Christopher Jullien on the treatment table, and Nir Bitton a midfielder having to play at the back.
It’s meant that Lennon has been forced to call upon youth team captain Stephen Welsh to fill the gaping hole in his defence. Fortunately, the 20-year-old has put in back-to-back solid performances in the Premiership, contributing to two wins and scoring against Motherwell last time out.
However, once Duffy’s loan move comes to an end, Celtic will have a lack of options in the heart of their defence. This could even go down to one as transfer talks surrounding Ajer continue to swirl. A recent report claimed that AC Milan are eager to snatch up the Norwegian powerhouse and after Celtic’s disappointing season, he could be very tempted to make the move.
The Bhoys were hoping to strengthen their ranks during the January transfer window after a disappointing 2020/21 season will almost certainly see them give up their title status to rivals Rangers. Their Glaswegian neighbours currently boast a mammoth 21-point lead in the Premiership table and just have to bide their time before they lift the trophy.
However, main January target Ben Davies made a last-minute switch in his plans and joined Liverpool from Preston North End instead. Despite reports claiming that Celtic had reached agreements with Davies over a summer move, he opted for a Premier League move in the end.
With no new defensive personnel on the books, Duffy set to leave and Elhamed also departing, Lennon and his team could be in serious trouble unless they go to town in the summer transfer window.
Jeremie Frimpong’s exit was only patched up by a loan deal for Everton’s Jonjoe Kenny, so there has yet to be any permanent additions to the back-line.
With Peter Lawwell retiring and leaving his post in the summer, Dominic McKay will be taking over his role, and signing off on some much-needed defensive reinforcements must be at the top of his agenda when the transfer window opens again, especially now that the 6 foot 2 Elhamed is set for an exit.
In other news, Stephen Welsh shines for Celtic in narrow Motherwell win…