Who will step up following Carl Starfelt’s Celtic exit?

Carl Starfelt has joined up with Rafa Benitez and Spanish side Celta Vigo in Spain’s La Liga for an undisclosed fee. Arriving at the club as one of the first signings of Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic revolution, Starfelt, much like Postecoglou, came in for some early criticism with fans questioning the Swede’s composure at the back. The bombscare tag was quickly attached to his name.

Moving to a new country and adjusting along with the rest of the Celtic squad to a very unique and demanding style of play was always going to take its time, but his quality shone through and Starfelt formed a formidable centre-half partnership with Cameron Carter-Vickers. In due course, the confidence of the fans in him grew also.

His aerial presence and defensive accumen will be sorely missed and Celtic are already moving to fill the void left by the 28-year-old’s exit. Celtic have been following the transfer model that has worked exceptionally in recent years by signing a replacement for Starfelt before he had even left Parkhead as Maik Nawrocki joined from Legia Warsaw for £4.3 million.


With a departure of a first team regular and an established name in the Celtic defence, naturally the door for opportunities in the centre-back position has momentarily opened up. What could this mean for some of the centre-backs currently at the club?

Stephen Welsh

Stephen Welsh is a player who has always come under fire from pundits and fans alike. We know his strengths and we know the potential that the former Scotland U-21 captain has. Starfelt’s exit opens up the door for Welsh to potentially move up in the pecking order and more minutes could potentially be coming his way.

He has the foundations to be a successful defender with his passing and aerial ability being some of the strongest parts of his game and also being some of the most important attributes in a successful modern day centre-back.

If Welsh is to get regular opportunities then he needs to play to a high ability when he gets his chances. If he doesn’t grab those opportunities by the neck, then before you know it, Nawrocki and Carter-Vickers will become a settled and unbreakable partnership and Welsh is back to square one again.

Yuki Kobayashi

Kobayashi has had a tough start to life at Celtic, putting things simply. Murmurs of a potential loan move away just eight months into his time at the club is giving eerily similar vibes to Yosuke Ideguchi’s time at the club.

Game time in pre-season was limited for the former Vissel Kobe man and when he did play he didn’t cover himself in glory. His confidence looked low towards the end of last season and Ange dropping him for a midfielder for the Scottish Cup final would have shattered that confidence.

To rediscover his best self that made him a target for Celtic in the first place, a loan move away to build up some confidence may be the best move.

Maik Nawrocki

Although we haven’t had much to base our opinion on, the early signs are looking good for Nawrocki. The £4.3 million fee and murmurs of Starfelt’s exit meant expectations were heightened for the 22-year-old.

After a nervy first 45 minutes in a Celtic jersey against Athletic Club, he looked a far more composed and confident presence in the league opener against Ross County.

He might have come in with promises of being Starfelt’s replacement, but with the rumours swirling around of another centre-back potentially coming into the club for a similar fee, the pressure will be on Nawrocki to nail down that starting berth next to Carter-Vickers fairly soon, and the early signs show he has the potential to do just that.


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