Luis Palma made his fifth consecutive start in green and white as Celtic ran out 2-1 winners over St Mirren in Glasgow on Wednesday night.

Replaced after 55 minutes, Palma came close to scoring his fourth goal since his arrival from Greek side Aris in the summer with a deflected efforted, in what was a mixed performance overall.

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A ninth appearance in all competitions offers a good opportunity though - with a decent sample of games now played - to take a more detailed look at what the Honduran winger has offered in the early days of his Celtic career…

Exceptional ball striking

Something that stood out when scouting Palma ahead of his move to Parkhead, the former Aris attacker has not taken long to showcase his fine ball-striking abilities.

He opened his account for Celtic with a well-struck cross-come-shot at Fir Park that deceived Motherwell keeper Liam Kelly before following that up with an excellent strike in his first domestic start at home to Kilmarnock.

His well-struck effort in his first league start, which he dipped up and into the side net of Killie keeper Will Dennis’ near side, carried an initial xG of 0.05 but a post-shot xG value of 0.54 highlighted the accuracy, power and cleanness of the 23-year-old’s strike.

His Premiership shot map - shown above - highlights his tendency to take on shots from longer distances, as both of his league goals have come from outside the box.

He has the ability from range but he could perhaps do with being a bit more selective with some of his shots at times. Again, this was noticeable from his time at Aris and hopefully, this is something he can iron out as he goes on in his career at Celtic.   

Killer long passes

Something else that was noticeable watching him before his arrival was his impressive ability to pick out a teammate at long distances.

Again, Palma has demonstrated this to good effect in the opening weeks of the season. Mostly used off the left, he has often looked to cut inside onto his stronger right to execute long-range passes to get a teammate in behind or switch play to the opposite side, changing the angle of attacks. The most effective example of this was of course his pinpoint pass for Matt O’Riley that allowed the Danish midfielder to open the scoring inside five minutes in the 4-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle.

Last Saturday at Easter Road, Palma demonstrated this somewhat rare ability for a winger to execute accurate cross-field passes that switch the play.


As his manager said post-match at Tynecastle, his distribution is almost that of a central midfielder. His key pass map, shown below, from StatsBomb further highlights this ability to unlock defences with longer-range passes.

Here, we can see most of his key passes coming from deeper areas around the box and over distance. Like his shooting, he could also be a bit more selective in terms of when he looks to execute some of these longer passes, though.  

Not the quickest

Sometimes difficult to judge coming from different leagues, it is clear from his first appearances in the hoops that Palma does not possess a lightning-quick turn of pace.

This is likely why he has worked at his ball striking and passing from deeper areas as he has developed his game, but it is something that may limit his ability to influence games, especially at the Champions League level. Even domestically, there have been few examples of where Palma has used pace to get away from his man.

Could drive outside more

Linked to this, Palma’s lack of pace means he cannot go on the outside of his man too often. He has shown a willingness to do this on a few occasions with examples such as the one below from the game against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park.

Here though - although he does take a good touch down the side of the defender - he is unable to burst past his man and get onto the ball beyond him.

Instead, he once again ends up checking back inside. Of course, as already highlighted, Palma is effective when coming inside the pitch. His lack of ability to go the other way may lead to him being more predicate to play against as opponents become more familiar with his game, though.

There were some encouraging signs of him attempting to go on the outside more against St Mirren on Wednesday so this is perhaps already something that Palma and the coaching staff at Lennoxtown are perhaps working on with him.

StatsBomb radar

His StatsBomb radar highlights a few other things that have stood out about Palma so far. Covering an admittedly small sample of games, of course, the radar below shows how he has performed across several metrics from his minutes in the Premiership that are most relevant to an attacking midfielder/winger. 

Here we can see, in terms of volume of shooting, Palma has averaged over four shots per match, but with most coming from range, this has led to a relatively low average xG value per shot (0.05 xG per shot). As mentioned, although capable, this is something he could work on, in terms of his shot selection.

Again, still early days but his underlying creative metrics are encouraging. Producing 12 key passes in the league so far, his resulting 0.27 xG Assisted per 90 is not far off Jota’s average last season (0.30 xG Assisted per 90). He is also averaging 3.54 successful dribbles but he is turning the ball over at a very high level, over six times per game. This is of course the result of looking to make things happen but this is almost twice as much as Jota turned the ball over last year. It is also a good bit higher than other current wingers Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda have registered this season.

Finally - and something has not been touched on so far - Palma has been pretty efficient off-the-ball, registering 4.63 pressure regains per 90, surprisingly more per 90 than the pressing machine, Maeda. Palma is averaging this level of regains from less actual pressures than the Japanese forward too. Still a very small sample size in terms of data, this will be one to keep an eye on to see if he can sustain this over a longer period.


Although he has produced four goal contributions in nine appearances, in terms of performances and qualities, Palma's early days as a Celtic player could probably be best described as something of a mixed bag.

He has demonstrated exceptional ball-striking abilities, produced notable goals, including that fine strike against Atletico Madrid, and shown a knack for picking out teammates with impressive long passes. However, there are areas of his game that he needs to work on, such as refining his shot selection and improving his overall decision-making.

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With time and experience, he has the potential to become a valuable asset, contributing both as a goalscorer and a playmaker. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop as he adapts to the demands of Scottish football as the season progresses.