James Forrest has had a particularly tough 12 months at Celtic Football Club.
The Scot was gearing up for an assault on ten in a row this time last year but the Hoops’ season fell away without him in the squad. As the Bhoys relinquished their grasp on the title to their biggest rivals, Forrest featured on just 13 occasions.
It wasn’t anybody’s fault at Celtic because the wide man was merely injured. It was a campaign plagued with fitness issues for the 29-year-old, who missed 38 matches and 176 days with two separate ankle problems.
His absence from the team was evident as Neil Lennon’s team struggled for goals. Ryan Christie deputised on the right-hand side but managed 13 fewer goals than he racked up in 2019/20.
During that season, Forrest contributed to 38 goals in all competitions, and trying to make up for that shortfall when everything isn’t going to plan is particularly difficult.
The Parkhead figure did make Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad for the European Championship and he made it through the tournament unscathed ahead of a big 2021/22 season.
Under the stern eyes of Ange Postecoglou, he will surely be a big player, especially after they missed width last term.
However, just as Forrest returns to the side for good, his partner in crime could depart. Odsonne Edouard has been repeatedly linked with the exit door andm if he leaves, it would be a big blow to not only the team but Forrest’s assist count.
The positive is that Celtic would likely find a replacement. Football Insider reported this week that they could challenge Rangers for the signature of River Plate’s Rafael Santos Borre.
The 25-year-old is out of contract this summer and could be acquired on a free transfer. His addition to the Paradise ranks could be game-changing for Forrest as he returns to full fitness.
Those goals have earned him quite the reputation in South America. Speaking about his qualities, Javier Saviola noted: “Borré is a great striker. Right now River has forwards of the highest level, both Rafa, Suárez and all the boys who are emerging with so much projection. Rafa is among the best forwards today, due to his way of playing and his goals.”
But what is that style of play to which Saviola refers? Well, Borre possesses pace in abundance, has a ruthless finishing streak and is capable of playing in the channels, dragging defenders away from vacant spaces.
As a consequence, not only could Forrest improve the number of assists he gets, the Scotland international could also find himself in more goalscoring positions due to Borre’s selfless play.
As Celtic look to revive themselves next season, the prospect of these two lining up under Postecoglou is mouth-watering. Dominic McKay simply has to seal this move if the opportunity arises.