Mikey Johnston has perpetually felt like a player on the brink of a breakthrough at Celtic, putting down a marking and claiming one of the wide attacking positions as his own.

However, injuries combined with inconsistent playing time have severely hampered his development. It seems long ago that Brendan Rodgers gave him his debut in the first of the treble-winning campaigns against St Johnstone in 2017 where he would contribute with his first assist.

Now four and a half years on, Johnston certainly has a trophy cabinet that would make any player envious but he hasn’t achieved the heights many believed initially, he would go on to fulfil.

This isn’t to say he hasn’t been productive at times during his Celtic career. In his 71 Celtic appearances, he has amassed 11 goals and nine assists, with his most productive spell coming in the curtailed 19/20 season. Here he scored six and assisted another six in just over 1100 minutes of play, before his season was ended by injury.

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He has won it all for Celtic, scored in Europe, started cup finals and even got an assist against Rangers. Surely at only 23 years of age, Johnston has a long career at Celtic to look forward to.

Now with an injury to Celtic’s talisman Jota, Johnston has another chance to step up and show he’s capable of performing in the famous Hoops.

He started against Dundee United on Sunday and performed well through his 90 minutes.
Celtic Way:

But does the data show he’s capable of stepping up in the long term or is it too big a step?

Data Review

Johnston has only completed 90 minutes 3.5 times this season, so the sample size is limited for complete conclusions, however, I want to keep the data in line with how Ange plays, so have excluded past seasons.

I have also compared directly to Jota who has been ahead of him starting in the wide left role.

Immediately from the radar below it is noticeable the structure of both radars is fairly comparable. This suggests they have similar strengths and weaknesses.

Celtic Way:

Both players' main asset is their ability to drive forward with the ball and take players on. This helps generate opportunities and spaces for Celtic to exploit. Johnston, especially in the league, has outperformed Jota on some metrics such as successful dribbles and key passes however these are most likely game-state related. For example, teams may be more open if behind or more tired by the time Johnston comes off the bench.

With more games, Johnston's metrics will decrease but he is still clearly capable of providing an attacking threat. With xG at 0.27 and xA at 0.26 Johnston shows he is more than capable of contributing to Celtic.

His main issue is clear to see in the data.

This is the rate he gives the ball away due to his poor decision making in the form of turnovers. He ranks in just the 10th percentile for turnovers at 4.82 p90 compared to Jota’s much better 3.37 p90.

For Johnston to be a Celtic starter he needs to make better decisions in the final 3rd and be more efficient while in possession. If he can add these attributes he will be of great use to Ange.


With the injury to Jota, Johnston could now have the chance to put a run of games together and show the fans and Ange what he’s fully capable of.

He need look no further than Ralston for how quickly a career trajectory can change. He is still young with plenty of raw ability. He just needs to show he can consistently deliver on the pitch.