During Ange Postecoglou’s first Celtic press conference on Friday afternoon, he suggested there was a need to improve a few problem positions ahead of their first competitive fixtures in a few weeks’ time.
The Hoops have granted rest to those players who were at the European Championship but, after witnessing a host of loan players leave the club, they need fresh faces.
One area where recruitment is of utmost importance to the Bhoys before their Champions League qualifiers is in defence. Postecoglou admitted that he hoped to have announcements in place on new signings shortly and it wouldn’t be a great surprise if the first arrival was a centre-back.
According to Mundo Deportivo, another player on Celtic’s radar this summer is Ecuadorian centre-half Piero Hincapie.
The 19-year-old is valued at £8.6m by his club Atletico Tallares, but he’s found no shortage of suitors. Also interested in signing the teenager are Bayern Munich, Milan, Real Betis, Atletico Madrid, PSG and Newcastle United.
Good luck then, Ange.
Described as an “elegant” defender by South American football enthusiast Tom Robinson, Hincapie seems to be one of the most promising players coming out of his continent.
He has caught the eye significantly during the ongoing Copa America, particularly with his aggressive but modern style of defending. In his three games for Ecuador so far, Hincapie has been extremely productive in the challenge by winning 2.3 tackles per game.
The youngster is also supreme in the air, prevailing in a colossal 3.7 aerial duels per game. That final statistic places him above Kristoffer Ajer at Celtic while it puts him on a level playing field with fellow promising defender Stephen Welsh.
As for Hincapie’s tackling percentages, no player managed more successful challenges per match in the Celtic squad than the Ecuadorian. A modern-day centre-back, he is also strong in possession of the ball, completing 90% of his passes in the Copa Sudamericana this term. He also possesses an element of pace which would set him apart from the rest of the defenders at Celtic.
Writing for World Football Index, Robinson commented: “A left-footed ball-playing defender, Hincapie impressed with his ability to build from the back and was fourth highest for successful passes and fifth highest for progressive passes in the division [Copa de la Liga].”
Analysis account Football Chatters spoke of his form at Copa America, adding: “There was one situation where a Peru attacker threatened to get one-on-one, but Hincapie’s acceleration ensured he could make the tackle and close the opportunity in recovery.”
With all of those qualities in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that he has been courted by some of the best clubs in Europe. His ability to keep possession and recover quickly would also make him perfect for Postecoglou’s attacking and high-intensity brand of football.
It feels like only a matter of time before Hincapie makes the trip across the Atlantic. Hopefully Parkhead will be his destination.