Outwith Celtic securing the permanent signatures of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota during this summer’s transfer window, I think it would be fair to say the Vinicius Souza appeared to be Celtic’s No.1 transfer target.
Celtic were hoping to sign the 6ft2 Brazilian defensive midfielder on loan with an option to buy, but his parent club Lommel in Belgium, who are owned by The City Group, were not interested in putting in any option to buy clauses or selling permanently during this window.
This allowed Espanyol to come in and take Souza on a season long loan, with the player happy to go to such a strong league in La Liga.
I have watched a highlights package of Souza’s three Espanyol appearances in pre-season s far, and he looks outstanding. Just the type of player we could be doing with, especially for the Champions League and for games against or rivals, where at times we have been bullied in midfield, so it’s gutting that we missed out on him.
Fausto Vera was another that we were linked with in that position, but he ended up going to Corinthians for about 8m euros.
Abu Fani who we have also been linked with still seems available, but looks more of a central to attacking midfielder, rather than a powerful enforcer.
So it’s now been a month since we missed out on Souza and we haven’t been able to bring in an alternative signing for that position, or even been linked with any that seem genuine.
I know people will say Mooy can play there, but I’m sorry, I just don’t believe that Mooy has been brought in as an alternative to Souza. I think from what we’ve seen of him so far, he’ll play as a No.8.
Souza would have come in as a first team starter and McGregor would have most likely been pushed further forward.
I don’t believe for a second that when Mooy gets up to match speed, he will be taking McGregor’s place in that role and McGregor playing further forward on a permanent basis.
I am also aware that McGregor played in that role last season and did very well and was arguably player of the year and we won the double.
But, clearly, Ange felt we still needed improvement in that area, some height and physicality, as well as being able to play that pivot role and take the ball in tight areas at the back and start attacks, which is why he targeted Souza early in the window.
There is now only about 3 weeks left of the window to sign a player for this position, and we are already a couple of games into the new season, with Champions League group games starting in early September.
For me, it’s a worry that we still haven’t strengthened in an area that Ange clearly felt we needed to strengthen in.