Celtic’s fringe-player contingent has taken a lot of criticism in the past couple of days, with many quarters outlining the need for improvement as the club looks to strengthen for the Champions League next season.

Ange Postecoglou was looking to see how they would stand up to the heat of a Glasgow Derby, and many feel that they wilted under that pressure.

The manager now has a lot more information at his disposal about what he is working with in terms of his full squad ahead of next season’s domestic and European campaigns.

This season's European campaign - albeit encouraging performance-wise - was an overall disappointment in terms of points gained. Supporters will be expecting a better accumulation of results this time around. 

Using StatsBomb’s player radars, Celtic’s fringe contingent are compared to those who they would replaced in the starting line-up to see if they are up to the task in terms of stats with Europe on the horizon.

Alexandro Bernabei


Argentina left-back Bernabei has struggled to impress thus far in his Celtic career. The defender cost the club £3.75m from Club Atlético Lanús in his homeland and has been playing back-up to first-team regular Greg Taylor for the vast majority of his time at the club.

There are clear areas where both players excel. Bernabei manages to complete more pressures when compared to his counterpart, averaging 13.61 to Taylor’s 9.67 per 90 minutes. He is also better in the air than the Scotland full-back, winning 2.51 duels to Taylor’s 2.08, and is a better dribbler with 1.57 per game compared to 0.63 for his teammate.

However, it is clear that there are major deficiencies in the young defender’s game. He averages four per cent less passing accuracy with 82 per cent to Taylor’s 86. Somewhat surprisingly, this figure from Bernabei was higher than expected when starting this study, as he seems to play stray passes regularly when given his chance in the team.

READ MORE: Celtic's fringe men answer Postecoglou's Champions League question

He commits 1.67 fouls per game compared to Taylor’s 0.71, highlighting rashness. His tackle/dribbled past percentage is also low when compared to his team-mate, averaging a season total of only 62 per cent to Taylor’s 79, a large jump.

The jury is very much still out on Bernabei, but he must improve dramatically if he is to be afforded more game time in the future, especially in place of one of Celtic’s most consistent players.

The young left-back certainly has time on his side, but it will not be long before his manager's patience in him runs out if his poor form continues. A better fit for European football may be required.

Anthony Ralston

Ralston has had a career revival under Postecoglou, with some big performances and goals earning him an extended contract and more game-time in the process.

The right-back has found it tough to displace Alistair Johnston since his arrival from CF Montreal in the January transfer window, though statistical comparisons show that he can hold his own in key areas.

Ralston on average produces more deep progressions than his team-mate, at a rate of 9.28 to Johnston's 9.19, showing he can keep up with the high standards that have been set. He also completes more successful dribbles per 90 minutes, achieving 1.26 to Johnston's 0.35, and wins more aerial duels per game at a rate of 2.44 to 1.96.

However, there are metrics where Johnston is far superior to Ralston, and it shows in the respective radars. The Canada international is a better passer than him, boasting a completion percentage of 86 to Ralston's 84, and turns the ball over fewer times over the course of a game at a rate of 0.77 to 1.18 for the Scotland defender.

A key component, both for Postecoglou's system and for European football in general, is that of the press when trying to retain the ball, and it is clear that Johnston is better than Ralston at this statistically. He averages 9.05 a game, while his team-mate only manages 6.76, which is the lowest percentile in that specific metric.

Despite Ralston being able to just about keep up with Johnston in this position, it may be an area where Celtic look to strengthen even further for European competition next season.

Yuki Kobayashi

This is perhaps a harsh comparison to make, but Kobayashi – despite the change in the positional side – is Cameron Carter-Vickers’ replacement in the Celtic team at the moment. Despite posting similar numbers in passing percentage (92 per cent to Carter-Vickers’ 93) and averaging more pressures per 90 minutes (5.15 to 4.12), the statistics show a large gap in quality for the 22-year-old will have to bridge in the years ahead.

The statistic which stands out most is Kobayashi’s aerial win percentage, which is at an alarming 47 per cent compared to Carter-Vickers’ 81 per cent. He also commits on average 1.17 fouls per game to his team-mate’s 0.76 in the same metric, which may be down to inexperience at this level.

READ MORE: What Celtic fringe men showed Ange in defeat to Rangers

It is important to remember that he has two mitigating factors that may be curtailing his ability to excel in the side.

The first is the sudden thrust into assuming the role of a defensive stalwart, thanks to Carter Vickers’ premature ending of the season. Not having the best defender in the league available was always going to hurt the team, and Kobayashi needs as much time to adjust to that loss as the players around him.

The second is Kobayashi’s personal adjustment to his new surroundings. While Celtic supporters have seen other Japan players such as Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate adjust almost seamlessly to life in Scotland, it would be wrong to assume that every individual hailing from the other side of the planet will be a success straight away.

If Kobayashi can work on both these aspects of Celtic life, then there is no reason why he cannot succeed at the club, but he must adapt and improve quickly, especially with Europe looming in the near future.

Liel Abada

One of Postecoglou's first signings, Abada's impact on the team in terms of goal contributions cannot be questioned, especially at the age of just 21.

Usually occupying the right wing position, Abada is competing with Portugal winger Jota in terms of starting games, one of which the latter has come out on top of for the majority of this season.

There are some areas in which the Israel winger does better than his team-mate, such as overall xG, where Abada has 0.51 to Jota's 0.30 per game. The former also has more touches in the box per 90 minutes, averaging 8.74 to the latter's 6.88, indicating that Abada is slightly more of a goal threat when he plays than Jota, who is more of a traditional winger in this Celtic side.

Jota is a better winger than Abada, and the statistics paint the same picture. He completes more successful dribbles at a rate of 1.79 to the lowly 0.61, which puts him in just the eighth percentile for wingers in this metric. The 24-year-old also wins more fouls on average than Abada, achieving 1.34 to the Israel winger's 0.79, as 2.04 pressure regains to 1.71 for his team-mate.

If reported interest does materialise with regards to Abada, and he wants to leave, then the club would be foolish not to listen to what is being offered for his services. The winger still has lots of development to go through before he reaches his footballing peak, and Celtic can reinvest in a stronger replacement better equipped to succeed in Europe using the money gained from his potential sale.

Hyeon-gyu Oh


Many have been quick to forget Oh's importance in securing the league title against Hearts, as well as the big shoes the young striker has had to fill in replacing the outgoing Giorgos Giakoumakis.

When compared to current first-choice attacker Kyogo, his numbers do not pale in comparison. He averages over five more touches in the box per 90 with 12.36 to Kyogo’s 7.33. He also just about averages a higher xG to his team-mate with 0.66 to Kyogo’s 0.65 and gets close to him in terms of pressures per game with 12.57 to 12.64.

Perhaps the only real downside when comparing the two strikers is in turnovers, where Oh could improve his numbers. He turns the ball over 3.77 times per 90 minutes, whereas Kyogo only does this on average 1.89 times every game.

Still, this is an improvement that will come with maturity and game time as he progresses in his career as a footballer, though he still has a long way to go before he can lead the line for Celtic on the European stage.