Celtic kept their foot on the Premiership title gas pedal, thanks to a 3-0 win over St Mirren last weekend with attention now turning to a Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden.

All focus will be on that first visit of the season to the national stadium this Saturday and then those five post-split fixtures as Brendan Rodgers’ side chase down a domestic double. In the background, though, the club will be making moves to reshape the squad ahead of next season. Despite the departure of the previous Head of Recruitment Mark Lawwell, and no replacement announced so far, the club already appear to be active.

A new first-choice goalkeeper is high up the agenda with Joe Hart set to retire – the likes of Ugurcan Cakir and Etienne Vaeseen have been linked to fill that role. The club will also likely target a new left-back. Greg Taylor has been the first-choice again this season but with little to no competition, backup Alexandro Bernabei was loaned out to Internacional in Brazil. In January, the club were heavily linked with Estoril’s left-back Tiago Araujo while a late move for Wolves’ Hugo Bueno was also mooted. The Premier League side’s Spanish full-back is reportedly still of interest.

Here, we highlight three - hopefully realistic - potential targets that could fit the bill for Rodgers at left-back. Although changes are ongoing in the recruitment department, the approach for this is data-led and within the club’s recent model. Each player suggested 23 years old or younger, valued at £5 million or less and of course currently playing leagues that the club would likely be scouting extensively.

There are also some general profile traits that we are looking to identify, such as strong in duels, progressive in possession and decent output in terms of chance creation. Rodgers has also consistently mentioned adding ‘pace and power’ to the squad this will also be a consideration.

Bartlomiej Wdowik - Jagiellonia Bialystok

The first candidate comes from a league Celtic have had plenty of success in before, both historically and more recently, the Polish Ekstraklasa. Players from the Polish league, such as Maciej Zurawski and Artur Boruc, have previously left their mark at Celtic Park with the club dipping back into the market in recent years too. Croatian right-back Josip Juranovic, signed from Legia Warsaw, was a huge success during Ange Postecoglou’s tenure, and one of the biggest signings of last summer, Maik Nawrocki, was also brought in from Legia.

A happy hunting ground before, this year’s Ekstraklasa could also provide a potential solution for Rodgers’ left-back hunt.

23-year-old Bartlomiej Wdowik has enjoyed a standout campaign for Jagiellonia Białystok, the club Celtic signed Patrick Klimala from in 2020.

His goalscoring exploits initially catch the eye - the Pole has nine goals from left-back this season (0.31 per 90). More importantly, Wdowik - who made his international debut last November - ticks several of the player trait boxes the club are looking for. A decent size at 6’0”, despite playing further forward at wing-back and in a wide left midfield role, he boasts some impressive defensive numbers. As much as full-backs these days are judged more on their attacking output, defending is still a vitally important part of the role, even for a full-ball in a dominant side such as Celtic.

In this regard, Wdowik stands out with the fourth-highest aerial win duel win rate percentage (62.9 per cent) of all full-backs/wing-backs in the Ekstraklasa with other key defensive numbers, such as his defensive duel win rate (65.66 per cent), comfortably above the league average too. He also has a low foul rate (0.68 per 90), indicating some intelligence in his defensive decision-making.  

Wdowik comes through as one of the most accomplished full-backs/wing-backs in Poland when in possession too. He is in the top quartile for his volume of forward (15.92 per 90) and progressive passes (8.4 per 90) with a better accuracy rate in the former. He looks capable of progressing the ball through carrying too, coming in at the 87th percentile for progressive runs (2.11 per 90).

In terms of chance creation, although slightly below average for his key passes (0.31 per 90), Wdowik’s xA (0.16 per 90) ranks generously versus his positional peers, in the 91st percentile.  

Unsurprisingly given his nine goals, Wdowik tops the ranks for goals and is in the 90th percentile for his xG. Much of these goals have come from direct free-kicks and penalties with the full-back something of a dead-ball specialist. Given Celtic’s issue from the spot this season, bringing in another penalty taker would perhaps be no bad thing either! A left-footed set-piece taker would be a bonus too.

In January, Wdowik attracted the attention of clubs such as Galatasaray, AEK Athens and Dinamo Zagreb, but a move failed to materialise. A move in the summer now seems certain for a player valued at around €3m (Transfermrkt). Jagiellonia would no doubt hold out for a bit more than that for their prized asset but with one year (plus the option of one more) left on his deal he will likely still be in a price range that would be achievable.

Kostyantyn Vivcharenko – Dynamo Kyiv

The second player on our list, Kostyantyn Vivcharenko, is currently playing in Ukraine’s top flight with Dynamo Kyiv.  Celtic have recently done recent transfer business in that eastern part of Europe – Carl Starfelt, Oliver Abilgaard and Sead Haksabanovic were all brought in from Rubin Kazan over Postecoglou’s two-year spell.

Ukraine’s top league - being played in the continuing shadow of war - is likely therefore another league Celtic’s recruitment staff will be monitoring with Vivcharenko one name that stands out. Already reported to have attracted the interest of the likes of Porto and Burnley, Vivcharenko was part of the Ukrainian under-21 side that reached the Euro U21 semi-finals last summer in Romania and Georgia.

He has played fewer minutes recently than the other two options here, hence the reduced minute count threshold in his percentile rank chart (below) of 700 minutes. However, albeit in a smaller sample size, it is clear why he has attracted interest from elsewhere already.

A similar height to Wdowik, Vivcharenko, at 5’9”, is another who shows up as a very solid presence, boasting high ranks for both his aerial duel win rate (61.54 per cent) and defensive duel rate (74.24 per cent). It should be noted that he has been much more active in defensive duels (8.07 per 90) than aerial duels (1.59 per 90) this season.

His ball progression number catches the eye, too. Although playing in a more possession-dominant side than the other two options presented here – Dynamo Kyiv have averaged over 56 per cent of the ball this season – Vivcharenko is highly progressive on the ball. Either through progressive runs (3.3 per 90) or progressive passes (12.72 per 90), the latter of which he has completed 75.96 per cent of, which is in the 80th percentile compared to his positional peers.

His final ball looks to be one area he could work on. Again, this is a smaller sample but he only just makes the top half for his xA (0.06 per 90) while his key passes (0.24 per 90) are in the bottom half. His crossing accuracy (29.17 per cent) does not rank too well either. That aside, an area which of course can be worked on as he develops, Vivcharenko has a lot of really good attributes with his ball progression numbers particularly noteworthy. Reported to have decent pace and capable of filling in at centre-back, he is already used to playing a possession-dominant said too so any move to Celtic would hopefully not represent too much of a change, from a playing style perspective.

His current valuation on Transfermarkt (an okay guide but always a bit of a ‘guesstimate’) is just €1.5m. However, with the other teams mentioned earlier circling, Kyiv would likely demand a higher fee, but potentially not one that is outwith Celtic’s budget.

Kristoffer Lund – Palermo

The final player suggested is Danish-born left-back Kristoffer Lund, who is currently in his first season with Palermo in Italy’s Serie B after transferring from Swedish side Hacken last summer. The former Midtjylland prospect has enjoyed a promising start to his career in Sicily after catching the eye in the Allsvenskan and recently made his international debut for the USA, qualifying to play for USMNT through his American father.

Another with a physical profile that Rodgers would be looking for, Lund is 6’0” - the same height as Wdowik - with an athletic build. Quick and strong, Lund has quite a rounded profile and, like Viccharenko, has played some minutes in the middle of defence.

Most of his attacking numbers come in around average, to above average, for a Serie B full-back/wing-back and he has chipped in with a couple of goals so far this season (0.08 per 90). Possession-wise, his ranks for the volume of most of his passes are quite low. This can probably be attributed to Palermo’s style though. The I Rosanero - despite sitting in the top half of Italy’s second tier - have averaged less possession than their opponents this season. More importantly though, Lund’s ranks for his accuracy rates when he has been on the ball are all well above average and would hopefully scale well to a more possession-dominant side like Celtic.

His final product comes through pretty well too. His key passes (0.13 per 90) is above the league average for a full-back/wing-back while his xA (0.13 per 90) is in the top quartile. Defensively, Lund is active with high ranks for defensive duels (8.9 per 90) and aerial duels (3.78 per 90). His defensive win rate (61.64 per cent) is good, just below the top quartile. However - despite his height - his aerial duel win rate (40.86 per cent) does not rank as favourably and may be one potential area of concern.

The rest of his defensive section is solid though, ranking highly for his PAdj Interceptions (6.16 per 90) and posting a below average, for a Serie B full-back/wing-back, foul rate (0.86 per 90).

Not as technically refined as Wdowik or perhaps as solid defensively as Vivcharenko, Lund does have several of the fundamental attributes Rodgers would look for in a full-back. He would still likely be capable of making an impact straight away with potential for further development too. Although just a year into a four-year contract with Palermo (not his final year as the general infographic from Wyscout above has), Lund would likely be available for around €3m.