Today, we discuss the second on-loan player and the considerations in signing him – Adam Idah.

Idah was a late arrival from Norwich City on loan with no option to purchase. The signs are Brendan Rodgers is keen to bring the 23-year-old Irishman back to Celtic on a permanent basis. Norwich City - planning for another Championship campaign and with a new manager - may well take their time deciding the future for Idah.

Never fall in love with a loan signing they say, especially one without a buy clause. Idah endeared himself to the Celtic support with his Cup-winning goal and a late effort at Ibrox. He scored two high-pressure penalties at Easter Road in a crucial win and added more important strikes at Motherwell. His performance at Kilmarnock in the title-clinching 5-0 victory was excellent.

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He had some important and timely performances then, but taking a step back, he was essentially the backup for Kyogo Furuhashi, Celtic’s joint top scorer. In that sense, he fulfilled the role Giorgos Giakoumakis and Oh Hyeon-gyu have performed over the last three seasons. They all offer a different “big man” option to the rapier-like but diminutive Japanese forward.

The basis for comparison here will be Giakoumakis’ 21-22 season (29 appearances, seven 90 minutes completed and 1480 minutes total), and Oh’s 23-24 season (26 appearances, two 90 minutes completed and 726 total minutes. This season Idah appeared in 16 matches, completing 90 minutes twice and 809 minutes in all competitions.

Note that neither Oh nor Idah meet the 900-minute threshold for sample size. Note also that the data from StatsBomb covers SPFL matches only, whilst any other data I introduce covers all competitions.


It might seem an odd place to start but modern football is a true team effort with 11 defenders out of possession and 11 attackers – even the goalkeepers now partake in the build-up.

The Greek striker has the edge across all the pressing and counter-pressing metrics. He also takes part in more defensive actions and regains the ball from them more often. Giakoumakis won 32 per cent of his defensive actions compared to 27 per cent from Idah and won the ball back from 36 per cent of defensive actions compared to 27 per cent from Idah. And remember, Celtic are a far more aggressive pressing team under Rodgers than Ange Postecgolou.

Compared to Oh, it is less clear cut with Idah far more adept at regaining the ball than the South Korean but undertakes fewer pressing actions. Oh’s defensive activity is also more voluminous. His defensive action success rate is 32 per cent but his possessions won from defensive actions rate is slightly less than Idah’s at 26 per cent. Where Idah is stronger than both is in aerial duels. Reportedly 6’ 3” and therefore the taller of the three players, he combines that height with pace and athleticism. However, he would need to increase his pressing abilities to be a mainstay in a Rodgers side.


Where Idah seems to differ from the other support strikers is his willingness to drop deep and get involved in the build-up, as well as running into the wider channels. This is as much a managerial style and philosophy point though. Postecoglou wanted his strikers inside the box between the posts. They were not going to get paid per touch of the ball. Rodgers has always preferred all-round strikers who can do a bit of everything. Bear in mind neither Giakoumakis nor Oh were hired to perform in that way.

Idah has by far the highest receive pack score – being on the end of successful forward passes that take opponents out of the game. He averaged 72.87 receive pack score per 90 minutes compared to Giakoumakis (27.49) and Oh (67.44). This speaks to his movement off the ball and willingness to receive it anywhere in the opponent's half. He also completes more passes (15.24) than the Greek (11.25) and South Korean (13.88) and indicative of greater involvement.

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Ball carrying is also a strength for Idah; despite his height, he has good technical ability and speed. He completed 2.56 ball carries per 90 minutes compared to Giakoumakis (0.3) and Oh (1.61). Despite this, it is Oh who creates more chances for others (1.36) whilst Idah averaged 1.0 and Giakoumakis 0.67 per game. Oh’s xA was double Idah’s at 0.32 to 0.15. Overall, Idah would be the more creative player outside the box, but again, he has been asked to and hired for a Rodgers role, not a Postecoglou role.


Coming to the core attacking skillset, here is the comparison with Giakoumakis.

The Greek’s role was to get into the sharp end of the box between the sticks and attack low crosses around the danger zone. As such he has a much higher xG, post-shot xG and average xG per shot. A pure “striker”. Idah as mentioned above has a much higher creative involvement and more turnovers given he is on the ball more often.

It is a very similar picture to Oh. The South Korean has higher metrics across all expected goal and shot on-ball value data. He also has more in-box touches and creates more chances as noted above. Across all competitions Idah has the lowest non penalty xG (0.66) compared to Giakoumakis (0.78) and Oh (0.72). Putting together xG and xA, it is the South Korean who has the highest overall expected scoring contribution with 1.08 expected goals and assists per game, Idah is next on 1.06 and Giakoumakis on 0.98.

Getting specific now to the core striker’s art, which is shooting. Across all competitions, Idah shades shot accuracy with 54 per cent of his efforts on target. Giakoumakis led the way in shot conversion whereby 59 per cent of his efforts on target resulted in goals. Indeed, the Greek converted an amazing 30 per cent of all his shots. Idah converted 26 and Oh only 13. Idah had the highest proportion of shots taken in the box (94 per cent), which is Kyogo-esque!

Overall, Idah has managed a scoring contribution (an assist or goal) every 74 minutes; Giakoumakis every 78 minutes and Oh every 121 minutes. Finally, Idah is the most wasteful, losing the ball in the final third 5.01 times compared to Giakoumakis (3.71) and Oh (4.59).


Ultimately Rodgers will want to purchase strikers to do the job the way he wants it done. Both Giakoumakis and Oh were Postecoglou signings and were expected to have minimal build-up involvement and to be penalty box predators.

It seems Rodgers prefers a more all-rounder in the striker role. Someone who can drop deep and wide. Idah offers that and his build-up data is far superior to the other two. Also, his combination of height, pace and athleticism allied with a sound technique is further evidence of the “complete package” in attributes. Giakoumakis was a great one-touch finisher, a robust battler and a great presser of opponents but lacked technical finesse.

Oh is probably somewhere in the middle but also lacks the all-round game of Idah. However, Idah slightly lacks in the core goalscoring especially compared to the Greek. Perhaps Rodgers is happy to take the trade-off between penalty box poacher and providing a more all-round attacking threat.

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Idah has certainly delivered big moments in important matches and that speaks to aspects of his temperament and confidence that aid his case. I noted previously that Giakoumakis was often the beneficiary of “stat padding”. That is, adding goals late in games when Celtic had already established a commanding lead. Oh had a memorable winner against St Mirren this season but has less history of delivering in big matches.

My concern overall with Idah is that I don’t see him being the primary striker over Kyogo. Therefore, the price point of around £6m for a backup striker seems excessive to me and surely there is better value out there. Idah seems to me the typical “Rodgers striker” and ultimately seems comfortable in the role the manager wants.

If Celtic can negotiate a more beneficial deal then I’d be ok with his signing.