Celtic’s treble of signings last week made it five incomings so far this summer. 

However, with around a month left of the transfer window to go, there is still work to do to shape the squad ahead for the 2023/24 season. One area where new manager Brendan Rodgers will no doubt look to reinforce will be the left side of his attack. Portuguese winger Jota - most often used on the left during his hugely successful two-year stay - was sold for a sizeable £25m fee earlier this summer while Rodgers has used Daizen Maeda, another primary option in that area, as a centre-forward in pre-season. 

New wingers Yang Hyun-jun and Marco Tilio both have some experience on the left but have been used more on the right at their previous clubs. The returning Mikey Johnston could have been a candidate to step up too, but he has - unfortunately, again - been ruled out for a significant period through injury. Although Maeda could still be moved out there, this currently leaves Sead Haksabanovic as potentially the only senior option on the left.

Haksabanovic has shown flashes of brilliance since he arrived from Rubin Kazan late last summer but has so far failed to nail down a regular starting position. He has had injury issues himself and there is also - due to his lack of pace but ability to operate well in tight areas - an argument to be made that he potentially is more effective through the middle. All of this points to Celtic bringing in another option in this area of the park before the end of the transfer window. 

Here, we pick out three players that could add to Rodgers’ options at left wing. The intention here is not to identify an exact like-for-like replacement to Jota but rather to highlight three, hopefully realistic, first-team-ready candidates for the role. There are still some general profile traits that we are looking to identify, though, such as high output in terms of goals and assists in their respective leagues, effective ball-carrying and some level of tactical flexibility.

The approach is data-led with each player suggested under 24 years old, valued at ÂŁ10m or less and currently playing in leagues that Celtic would likely be scouting extensively.

Ivan Jaime – Famalicao

Celtic Way:

Potentially the most expensive of three, Ivan Jaime has already attracted interest from Premier League clubs and Porto this summer after a breakout season in Portugal’s Primera Liga. The Spaniard came through the ranks at Malaga before making the move to Portugal in 2020. After a bit-part role in his first two seasons, Ivan Jaime became a key player for Famalicao last season with his 11 goal contributions (28 per cent of their total league goals) helping them to an eighth-place finish. 

Celtic Way:

That impressive output of 11 goal contributions, including eight open-play goals, one penalty and two assists, worked out at almost a goal contribution every two games (0.49 per 90) and seen him rank among the most productive wingers in the Portuguese top-flight. Previously a central attacking midfielder, Ivan Jaime is a technically gifted player who is a high-volume dribbler, averaging 6.77 per 90. He has also been relatively successful in his dribbling, completing 51.87 per cent of his dribbles last season.

Celtic Way:

A quick and tricky winger, there was only one other wide attacker (min 1,000 mins played) who took more shots than Ivan Jaime (3.07 per 90) in last season’s Primera Division but he did rank in the bottom quartile for his on-target percentage (27.54 per cent). He is a fine ball-striker but he can be guilty of shooting from too far out. His defensive section indicates he is not the most effective off-the-ball either. 

That said, Ivan Jaime would definitely excite the Celtic support as Jota did. With Famalicao reportedly setting a price tag of around £10m and a few areas of his game still to work on, he may not represent the best value of the three suggested here. He would almost certainly bring goals, though.  

Michel-Ange Balikwisha – Antwerp

Celtic Way:

Another option could be Antwerp’s Michel-Ange Balikwisha. A former Belgium under-21 international, Balikwisha has spent the last two seasons with Antwerp after making the move from rivals Standard Liege, where he started his career, in 2020. Like Ivan Jaime, he is a quick and tricky winger but beyond that, he has quite a different profile from the Spaniard. He attempted a similar number of dribbles (5.89 per 90) but was more successful, completing 60.74 per cent of his compared to Ivan Jaime’s 51.97 per cent.

Celtic Way:

Although he chipped in with eight goal contributions last season (7 non-penalty goals and 1 assist), he ranks below the 50th percentile for a Belgium Pro League winger for his output. He could have expected to provide more assists as his xA per 90 was 0.16 per 90 compared to his actual assists of 0.04 though. His goal rate, 0.26 per 90 from an xG of 0.20, was fairly stable. 

One of Balikwisha’s main methods of chance creation is his crossing. He crossed more (4.16 per 90) than any other winger in the Belgium Pro League and boasted one the highest ranks compared to his positional peers in the league for his accuracy of cross (37.72 per cent). 

Celtic Way:

In contrast to Ivan Jaime, Balikwisha was very effective out of possession too. The tactically flexible winger, who can also play as a striker or second striker, was active in defensive duels (6.43 per 90) and registered an above-average win rate of 58.99 per cent. He also made 5.35 possession-adjusted interceptions per 90, one the highest per 90 of any winger in Belgium’s top division. This level of effectiveness off-the-ball would be particularly appealing for Celtic when it comes to Europe. 

His current valuation on Transfermarkt (always to be taken with a pinch of salt of course) is just over £5m. Though Antwerp would likely demand a fee above that mark for a player contracted until 2026, he should still be in a price range that would be achievable for Celtic. 

Jeppe Okkels – Elfsborg 

Celtic Way:

The final player is Elfsborg’s Jeppe Okkels. A few years older than the other two, the Dane would likely be the cheapest option of the three. A consistent performer in the Allsvenskan for the last few years (nine G/A in 20/21, eight G/A in 21/22), the former Silkeborg player has made an electric start to the 2023 season in Sweden, scoring seven and laying on four more in just 1,216 minutes of football. 

Celtic Way:

Not as flexible positionally as the other two suggested, Okkels impresses in other areas beyond his output. Like Balikwisha, his crossing stands out, attempting 3.26 per 90 with an accuracy rate of 43.18 per cent. A good height, the tallest of the three, Okkels is still quick and agile and also boasts stand-out dribbling numbers in his league too. He has attempted 4.44 dribbles per 90 so far in the 2023 season, completing 65 per cent of them. 

Celtic Way:

He also stands out amongst his positional peer in the Allsvenskan for his dangerous passes, a combination of key and through passes. Okkels has made almost one key pass per game (0.96 per 90) and 0.59 through passes per 90. Okkels lands somewhere between Ivan Jaime and Balikwisha for his defensive output. The former Danish under-21 international has been involved in 5.7 defensive duels per 90 so far, winning 55.84 per cent of them. He has also made 2.68 possession-adjusted interceptions per 90. 

Of course, the smaller sample size, due to the Allsvenskan being mid-season, of his data compared to the other two should be taken to account here. However, entering the final 18 months of his contract and coming from a lower-ranked league than the other two (Global Football Ranking), Okkels would represent the best value. Currently valued at just over £1m on Transfermarkt, he would likely be available for a fee of no more than £3m.