At Parkhead, there is a sense that Celtic may need numerous new faces if they’re to reclaim their dominance over Scottish football.
They are 21 points behind Rangers in their quest for ten titles in a row and a this point, not even a couple of signings will be able to bridge the gap.
One potential signing Celtic are reportedly targeting is young Liverpool striker Taiwo Awoniyi.
The 23-year-old is currently on loan at Bundesliga outfit Union Berlin but the Hoops and Rangers are set to battle it out for his signature, according to 90min.
Awoniyi joined Liverpool in 2015 but after failing to secure a work permit, he has been sent out on six different loan spells to foreign territories.
A work permit in England is becoming increasingly unlikely but the system is different in Scotland so the Old Firm giants have hopes of being able to get him to Glasgow.
Awoniyi has struggled to settle in European football in the past. Prior to the current season, he’d scored just once in Europe’s top five leagues. However, he’s developed nicely this term and he’s now looking like a top prospect.
His goal scoring abilities certainly left a lot to be desired in recent years but he’s now demonstrating how capable he is front of goal. Though, the most eye-catching part of his play is undoubtedly his dominating presence when leading the line.
Standing at 6 foot, he is evidently a handful to deal with and that echoes the thoughts of Union sporting director Oliver Ruhnert: “With his physical robustness, his team spirit and work around the box, he should make our attacking game more flexible and further stimulate the attack.”
Indeed, it’s difficult to argue that he hasn’t achieved that. In 2020/21, Awoniyi has won as many as 3.3 duels per game. That accounts for both aerial battles with defenders and 50/50 challenges against the opposition.
Coincidentally, that’s remarkably similar to Odsonne Edouard, someone who has won 3.8 duels per game for Celtic this season.
Edouard uses his sheer power to wonderful effect in the SPFL and as a result, he’s scored plenty of goals – 72 in fact – while on Scottish soil.
Indeed, a passage written by the BBC’s Martin Watt said of Edouard’s style of play. “He [Edouard] developed his athletic potential and his tactical range. Especially regarding the diversity of his moves on the pitch – ball retention, the ability to be unmarked to receive possession to his feet and deep in the opposition half.”
A lot of those skills and attributes can also be attributed to Awoniyi.
The challenge for the Liverpool loanee is now finding the net with the same regularity as Edouard. If he can manage that, he’ll be some striker and will likely be fending off offers left, right and centre.
With Edouard continuing to field interest from elsewhere, a January swoop for Awoniyi would be timely. Nick Hammond must complete a deal for the robust goal scorer so the Hoops have a ready-made replacement for if and when Edouard leaves.