Celtic will welcome back a host of players from loan spells this summer. While most will likely be looking for new clubs again, whether that be another temporary home to continue their development or a new permanent club, a few will be hoping to make a first-team impression.

One loan Celt who could potentially make their mark on the first team this coming season is Bosun Lawal. Recent reports have suggested that the former Watford academy prospect will be given the chance to impress manager Brendan Rodgers during pre-season. The Republic of Ireland under-21 international, who has been called up to the full international side by John O’Shea for the Republic’s latest friendlies, spent last season on loan in English League One with Fleetwood Town.

Lawal played under three separate managers during his loan, including former Celtic captain Scott Brown who took him to Fleetwood last summer and ended the season relegated. Despite that, Lawal enjoyed a productive temporary spell at The Cods where he played just under 4,000 minutes of league football in England’s competitive third tier. Used initially as a centre-back, as he had been with Celtic B and in his couple of first-team appearances in friendlies last summer, Lawal flourished as a box-to-box midfielder in his first full professional season. He further demonstrated his versatility by filling in at both right-back and left-back for the Lancashire side.

Here we take a look at Lawal’s data (sourced from Wyscout) from last season’s EFL League One through several scatter graphs. The dataset includes all League One central defensive and central midfielders (the position Lawal played his most minutes in) who played a minimum of 1,000 minutes last season.

Defensive duels

The first scatter shows how Lawal performed when it came to defensive duels in League One. Wyscout defines a defensive duel as any attempt to dispossess an opposition player to stop an attack from progressing with Lawal involved in 5.29 per 90 last season, around one less than the average of those included in the dataset.

His win percentage in these duels (66.22 per cent) was not amongst the absolute best but still comes through as comfortably above average.

Aerial duels

6’ 3” Lawal was involved in a high number of aerial duels compared to his midfield positional peers (4.65 per 90). This is of course likely skewed due to some of his minutes coming in defence.

His aerial duel win percentage (66.05 per cent) shows up extremely well though with no other central defensive midfielder or central midfielder in England’s third tier boasting a higher win percentage last season.

General defending

The final defensive scatter here plots shots blocked and interceptions, the latter adjusted for possession (PAdj). Here we can see Lawal posted 0.59 shots blocked per 90, one of the highest shots blocked rates per 90 in the dataset.

More impressive is his PAdj interceptions (7.58 per 90), which also rank amongst the highest amongst other central midfielders in the league. Both of these may well be down to Fleetwood having to do more defending – they gave up more shots than another other team in League One (11.57 per 90) and posted the highest xG against (77.83).

This higher interception volume (which is adjusted for possession), when considered alongside his lower defensive duel volume, suggests Lawal has been more proactive than reactive in some of his defending though, able to cut threats out before the need to get involved in a duel.

Ball progression

The next scatter plots successful progressive passes, a pass that attempts to advance a team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal, and progressive runs, a continuous ball control by one player attempting to draw the team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal.

Here we can see Lawal was amongst the most progressive players in the dataset, averaging around seven progressive actions per match last season. He averaged 4.50 successful progressive passes per 90 and posted 1.51 progressive runs per 90. Lawal’s physical attributes likely help with the latter, in terms of being strong enough to hold off opponents when carrying the ball. It is also encouraging to see just how progressive he was in his passing though.

Chance creation

Although used in defence for parts of the campaign, Lawal showed signs of being a creative influence for Fleetwood last season too. His 0.21 key passes per 90 and 0.07 xA per 90 come in just above average for players in this dataset. Not huge numbers but encouraging all the same considering he spent a chunk of his season in the backline.

These came from open play too, whether that was from accurate long-range passes when deployed in deeper positions or driving runs to the byline to cut the ball back into dangerous areas when in midfield.

Goal threat

Lawal showed he can chip with goals too. Despite playing in more defensive positions for a period of the season, he bagged six league goals, which worked out at 0.14 per 90. He made the most of the goal-scoring opportunities he got as well, with his goals per 90 slightly above his expected goals per 90 (0.10 xG).

A few of Lawal’s goals last season came from strikes from reasonable distances too, showcasing his clean ball striking technique.

Percentile rank chart

The above percentile rank chart further highlights the areas where Lawal stood out during his loan spell in the North West of England. Those impressive defensive metrics, particularly his aerial duel win percentage and PAdj interceptions, catch the eye while his ball-carrying is further emphasised with high ranks for the volume of dribbles attempted and his successful dribbling percentage.

His goal threat also comes through in his attacking section. Although, as just mentioned, he demonstrated he can be a threat from a distance, his average xG per shot ranks quite highly, showing he got to higher-quality chances closer to the goal more often than most of his positional peers in League One too.

His lower ranks for other volume possession metrics included here are likely down to Fleetwood not being an overly ball-dominant side in last season’s EFL League One – they averaged 47 per cent possession, amongst the bottom ten sides when it came to ball possession.

His volume for progressive passes also stands out here again, although the chart highlights his accuracy rate in these would be one area of improvement with his 67.12 per cent accuracy ranking just above the bottom quartile. As seen earlier, his creative passing again ranked favourably against his positional peers in England’s third tier, with his key passes and expected assists (xA) ranking above average.


An athletic, powerful player, based on his first season in professional football, Lawal could have a very high ceiling indeed. The kind of profile that is arguably missing from Celtic’s midfield, Lawal looks as if he will, rightly so, be given a chance to impress in pre-season this summer.

Should Rodgers still feel he isn’t quite ready then another loan, perhaps to the English Championship to develop further would be best for Lawal. Contracted to 2026 a new, longer-term deal should also be considered for a player who shows signs of being a big asset in the future.