WITH the January transfer window getting closer, Celtic will be looking to get their potential recruitment list ready.

Manager Ange Postecoglou has started finding his rhythm as the Hoops find themselves just four points behind league leaders Rangers.

The Greek-Australian will be out to add a few names in the January window to not only strengthen the squad but also fill some evident gaping holes.

One of the best places to shop would be the Netherlands. The Eredivisie has an abundance of talent and Celtic have had a history of looking into the Dutch market in the past.

Here, we take a look at three players from the Eredivisie and Eerste Divisie who could be good options for the Parkhead boss as he looks to take Celtic back to the top of Scottish football.

Maarten Paes (FC Utrecht)

Considering Joe Hart is 34 years of age, Celtic would be wise to earmark a younger goalkeeper; Maarten Paes from FC Utrecht would be an interesting option in that regard.

The 23-year old Dutch keeper is 6ft 3in and right-footed. At the point of writing, his club have the third-best goals conceded record (16) in the Eredivisie behind Ajax (two) and Feyenoord (13).

Celtic Way:

We can infer from the above data that Paes’ shot-stopping performance is above average - although he generally faces fairly low-quality shots from the opposition.

Paes is someone who doesn’t hesitate to leave his line and is available to sweep up behind the defence, something Celtic keepers are asked to do frequently.

In addition, he has a good sense of danger and anticipates how to deal with it well.

Celtic Way:

As you can see in the picture above, Paes sensed danger and came out of the box to head the ball away to a safe region of the pitch.

There are more similar instances, such as in the pictures below, where he anticipates danger and is quick to get off his line to deal with it.

Celtic Way:

Married to this is good reflexes. Paes makes quick reaction saves that are highlight-reel material but there is an argument that he could make them look fairly simple with improvements in his positioning. Indeed, his starting position in certain situations can put him at a disadvantage although it must be noted that he is improving in that area.

Although his long distributions are reasonably good, he still needs to work on his ball-playing to be part of build-up play as a fifth man. However, he is calm under pressure with the ball even though he tends to play it safe, while looking for quick releases where possible. Most importantly, he consistently makes himself available as a receiving option, which is something Celtic require from their custodian.

The data isn’t too kind to Paes when it comes to claims but he does attempt to take command when he steps out of his line to come for crosses or corners. That said, another area for improvement would be better positioning when faced with a one-v-one situation. 

Celtic Way:

You can see his issues with positioning and setup in the picture above. He eventually ends up making a save with his left hand on this occasion but it must be said his positioning is well off.

That Paes is only 23 means there is big room for improvement and, given he would likely be a cost-effective signing as well, the characteristics of a well-rounded goalkeeper are there.

Gijs Smal (FC Twente)

Summer signing Josip Juranovic has performed well while filling in as a left-back on many occasions during Greg Taylor's injury-enforced absence. However, he is best used as a right-back and that is where he offers the most value.

With that in mind we turn our attention to Gijs Smal, a left-footed left-back who turned 24 in August. The Dutchman loves marauding forward at every opportunity and would be an interesting squad option for Celtic.

First, we will take a look at his passing and creative ability.

Celtic Way:

Smal has a bursting run in him, combined with quick feet which he frequently uses to play little one-twos with his team-mates.

He is one of the most offensive full-backs in the Eredivisie and that comes with a compromise defensively, as we will see later.

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Smal provides support down the left flank when Twente are building attacks from wide areas. He has a habit of making underlapping runs when his team are in attacking transition. As you can see in the picture below, the attack started down Twente’s left channel and Smal is making a run inside as the ball was progressed down wide left.

It might be a bit of a stretch to say that he could be an inverted full-back based on this feature of hi splay but there is reason and scope for that argument with the right coaching from Postecgolou.

Celtic Way:

Intriguingly, Smal regularly gets into the left half-spaces in the midfield third of the pitch to play his quick one-twos and help the team get out of the press effectively.

As mentioned earlier, his attacking attributes are impressive but there would be a compromise to be made on his defensive side of the game. There are evident limitations to his defensive metrics at the moment which would need working on. Before delving into it deeply, we will first look at his defensive and disciplinary numbers.

Celtic Way:

Although the numbers seem positive, it should be pointed out that he is forced to get involved in a lot of duels but comes away from them with a low percentile win rate.

Indeed, one of his biggest weaknesses is his defensive positioning in one-v-ones. He often gets caught on the blindside and it puts him at risk, especially when he comes up against players with clever movement.

When Twente get caught in a turnover, Smal is already out of position and is often slow to recover (in this manner he is perhaps comparable to Chelsea's Marcos Alonso). Most importantly, even when he’s defending, he can be dragged away by players leaving lots of space behind.

Here is one such example of Smal getting dragged into a challenge and then failing to block it, leading to a goal:

Celtic Way:

Despite this shortcoming, Smal profiles as a good signing for Celtic, especially as a strong squad option.

Jari Vlak (FC Emmen)

FC Emmen got relegated from the Eredivisie last season but they find themselves in a good position to fight for promotion and part of the reason for that is that they managed to keep hold of a top-division level player in Jari Vlak.

Vlak would be a cost-effective and under-the-radar option for Celtic to add to their options at the base of midfield. The 6ft 3in anchorman is happy to sit in front of the centre-backs and distribute the ball well.

Despite this profile. he is very involved in the opposition box for a defensive midfielder. A look at his passing and creation data gives a fair idea of his abilities:

Celtic Way:

One of Vlak’s important attributes is that he makes himself available to receive the ball. Crucially for Celtic, he is rarely static and actively adjusts his position so that he can receive the ball with the intention of progressing it forward.

Under pressure he will likely play it safe but, as the visualisation shows, he is still above average in terms of attempted progressive passes and likes to try to break lines by attempting through balls.

He also isn't shy about shooting, but sometimes that might not be the best option. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that he is similar to Scott McTominay in terms of style, albeit a bit more progressive in his thinking.

On the other end, he engages in defensive duels with a 65 per cent success rate. For someone of his height, his aerial duels win rate is disappointing but it is perhaps offset by his ability to use his long legs for interceptions.

Celtic Way:

In terms of areas to improve, Vlak must add some urgency in tracking back after turnovers and learn to use his physical stature to his advantage more than he does currently. 

With the right coaching, however, the feeling is the attributes he does have can be effectively moulded into a dominating midfield player.