Where did it all go wrong at Celtic for Ismaila Soro?

For years now, Celtic has become one of the best teams in Europe for young players to develop their game as they go in pursuit of a move to a top team. Ismaila Soro no doubt would have joined Celtic with the same views of success as he looked to follow similar paths to Virgil van Dijk and Victor Wanyama when he joined the club back in 2020.

However, he is now on the verge of leaving Celtic after three years, with Valenciennes in Ligue 2 being his destination for a measly fee of £128,000, which pales in comparison to the original fee of £2million Celtic paid Israeli side Bnei Yehuda.

What happened to Ismaila Soro and how did his Celtic career get to this point?

Early days and lack of game time

As previously mentioned, Soro joined Celtic as a 21-year-old back in January 2020 with a similar feel to other ‘project’ signings made around that time. However, he came to the club and immediately picked up a knee injury which meant he missed the rest of the season. He didn’t get his chance in the first team until the following season, the dreaded ten-in-a-row attempt.

Getting an opportunity and impressing

Celtic were in a very poor position back in the later stages of 2020 with the league title slowly slipping away, an early exit from the League Cup at home to Ross County and a dismal European campaign. It was a dead rubber game against Lille in the final match of Celtic’s Europa League campaign in which Ismaila Soro would finally get his chance.

He impressed in this opportunity with himself and David Turnbull playing starring roles in a 3-2 win over Les Dogues which led to more opportunities as Neil Lennon tried to find anything that would improve his Celtic team.

The Ivorian would continue to impress with his energy and defensive game allowing for a lot of the responsibilities placed upon an ageing Scott Brown to be eased. His performance levels and clear potential even led to links to Spurs, although the credibility of those rumours are still pretty farfetched.

He would play consistently from December through to January where his game time started to dry up, coinciding with Scott Brown announcing his Celtic exit in the coming summer.

Scott Brown would start most of the games at the tail-end of the season with Soro losing out on precious game time which would have allowed him to develop what was still a pretty raw game all round.

Ange’s arrival and Soro’s exile

Ange Postecoglou joined Celtic in June 2021 and many expected Ismaila Soro to have a big part to play in getting the team back to the top of Scottish football.

However, the Aussie didn’t fancy the Ivorian with his rashness and poor positioning showing no signs of being eked out of his game. Minutes were limited during the 21/22 season with the occasional appearance from the bench being all that he saw.

Loan spell at Arouca and eventual departure

When Ismaila Soro was loaned out to Arouca many saw this as Celtic failing to ship him off. More bodies were being brought in for the midfield position and he was falling further and further down the pecking order.

A lacklustre loan spell was the final nail in the coffin for Soro as he is set to depart the club this summer with a move to Valenciennes looking imminent.

Ismaila Soro was a very raw player who needed a lot of coaching to remove some of the weaknesses from his game, but that development never seemed like happening. Ultimately, Ismaila Soro wasn’t good enough to be a Celtic quality player and it’s for the best that he moves on.


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