Celtic can sit back this weekend and breathe a huge sigh of relief that they don’t have a game to play. After all, they will need all the preparation time they can get ahead of the Old Firm in seven days time.
The SPFL title is gone, however, and no longer are they the dominant force in Scottish football.
This already feels like the beginning of a new era for the Hoops. Neil Lennon has resigned and Peter Lawwell is set to retire in a few months time.
One such player is midfield stalwart Scott Brown. The skipper has made countless appearances for the Bhoys but this could be his final season as a player.
Ismaila Soro might well be the natural heir to his Celtic throne, certainly from an internal point of view. Though, the Glaswegians would be wise to bring another face to Paradise to replace Brown.
Celtic have been linked with a few midfielders in recent times. During the January transfer window, it was thought that they may make a move for former Stoke general Giannelli Imbula.
However, another name that’s been consistently linked with a move to Parkhead is Crystal Palace’s James McCarthy.
He was first touted with a switch to Glasgow last summer but rumours re-emerged back in January. The Irishman is out of contract in a few months time and thus, would represent a cut-price way of replacing Brown.
James McFadden recently discussed that fact, saying: “To come in, with the experience he has got, I think he’d be a really good signing for Celtic. You have to get that balance. Bringing in young players to the team to add value to them is great, but you need the experienced ones in there to help them as well.”
The former Scotland international also discussed how McCarthy could come in and replace Brown.
Indeed, by looking at their positions on the pitch and their statistics, it’s hard to argue against that claim.
The Palace midfielder may lack a bit of the bite and aggression that Brown possesses but he’s assured in possession of the ball and can do the dirty work astutely.
In the Premier League last season, McCarthy made a colossal 2.5 successful tackles per game on the way to earning himself nine yellow cards. For context, Celtic’s captain has managed just 1.4 challenges a match in 2020/21.
If you consider the £50k-per-week midfielder is only 30, and the fact he’s stronger in the tackle, Celtic may well land themselves an upgrade here.
That can only be good news in their quest to rediscover their dominance of Scottish football.