Following the departure of Neil Lennon, rumours are flying around who will be next to take the reins at the hilt of Celtic Football Club. The 2020/21 season has been a disappointing one for the Scottish giants, who had hoped they would mark their tenth consecutive Premiership title. However, a poor run from the reigning champions and an unstoppable campaign for Steven Gerrard will see Rangers snatch the crown from them at the end of the season.
Celtic were also knocked out of the Europa League early on. They finished bottom of their group on just four points, conceding the joint most amount of goals in the group stage of the competition. They also watched Jeremie Frimpong leave for pastures new and could be facing several more exits if the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer also opt to leave Parkhead.
A number of names have swirled around the open managerial position at Celtic, but one who has been heavily linked to the job is former Liverpool and Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez. According to The Mirror, the Spaniard was firmly in the picture to take over from Lennon whilst he was still at the club after he decided to leave his position in China, suggesting he is very much on Dermot Desmond’s radar.
Recruiting a proven winner like Benitez would be a huge coup for the Bhoys, but it would also allow certain players to develop and unleash their full potential under his watchful eye.
Back in 2006, Benitez was still relishing his Champions League win in Istanbul and turned to the January transfer market to recruit some new blood. Liverpool brought in a 20-year-old Daniel Agger, who joined the club from Brondby in his native Denmark. Despite his first season being limited due to injuries, the centre-back went on to become an ever-present figure in Liverpool’s squad and is now hugely regarded as a club legend in the eyes of many.
For Benitez to build up a plucky young lad into an icon is something to appreciate. Indeed, history could repeat itself if the 60-year-old joins Celtic and he shifts his attention to Stephen Welsh.
The £180,000-rated Scot was called up to the senior team this season as an emergency strategy from Lennon. With Shane Duffy disappointing and Christopher Jullien out injured, the 21-year-old defender was given his chance to shine. Although he’s picked up a slight injury, Welsh was solid in the five matches he started alongside Ajer. Once he returns to fitness, he has a bright future ahead of him with Celtic.
All he needs is a manager who will put their faith into him and be patient as they build him into the solid centre-half he is capable of becoming. Benitez turned Agger into a hero, he could do the exact same with Welsh.