Celtic FC opinion: The Hoops should sign Strahinja Pavlovic
According to The Scottish Sun, Celtic manager Neil Lennon personally went to Wales to watch Serbian youth international Strahinja Pavlovic in action for Partizan Belgrade, as the Serbian heavyweights beat Welsh side Connah’s Quay in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.
Lennon was alerted to the potential of the towering centre-back prior to the game and The Scottish Sun understands that the Hoops manager was left impressed with what he saw of the talented teenager.
Celtic have already made the headlines this summer with the big-money acquisition of French centre-back Christopher Jullien from French outfit Toulouse, whilst Hatem Abd Elhamed has also arrived at Parkhead from Israeli club Hapoel Beer Sheva for a thrifty sum of money.
The Hoops were desperate to bring in centre-back reinforcements earlier in the summer following the departure of last season’s mainstays Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic and the fans at Parkhead can certainly afford to breathe a sigh of relief, now that Elhamed and Jullien have come through the door as replacements.
Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo has also been brought in as a replacement for Emilio Izaguirre and an understudy to first-choice Kieran Tierney. That said, a new right-back must continue to be high on Lennon’s wishlist before the deadline in August.
Celtic are currently short of options on the right-hand side of the backline following the departure of Cristian Gamboa and Mikael Lustig and it is a no-brainer that the Hoops would need to bring in a specialist in that position to avoid any complications midway through the campaign.
Shifting the focus to Strahinja Pavlovic, the Serbian teenager is already a giant in the making, having only made his first-team debut for Partizan Belgrade back in February.
Standing at 6ft 4in with an imposing frame, the 18-year-old has earned rave reviews for his physicality, aerial ability and good game reading skills for a player of his age.
Pavlovic, who has represented Serbia at the U-17 and U-19 levels, made 15 appearances in all competitions in his breakthrough season the last term, helping his boyhood club secure a third-place finish in the Serbian top-flight.
However, given his rapid development, one would expect him to play a more significant role for his club next term.
That is, of course, if he stays put at Partizan because the 18-year-old has already attracted interest from a number of elite European clubs.
The left-footed centre-back, who is also capable of playing in a holding role in front of the back four due to his ball-playing qualities, was recently linked with a £4.5 million move to Juventus, which is a clear testament to his obvious talent and huge potential.
Pavlovic, who has a contract at Partizan until the summer of 2021, looks like a real talent at this stage and one would expect him to capitalise on the bright start to his professional career and go on to build a reputation for himself in some top European league in the years to come. ‘
To put things into perspective, it is easy to see that Celtic would bag a massive coup if they manage to fend off interest in the race to sign one of Europe’s brightest emerging prospects.
The Hoops have solved their centre-back conundrum for the upcoming campaign but they need to keep investing in talented youngsters like Pavlovic to keep moving in the right direction.
Celtic currently have the likes of Elhamed, Jullien, Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic as options in central defence and, while Pavlovic doesn’t really seem to fit in there, the Hoops should look at the 18-year-old as one for the future.
Looking at things from the player’s perspective, the prospect of playing for one of the two biggest clubs in Scotland, coupled with the lure of guaranteed European football every season, is likely to appeal to the youngster and a move to Parkhead might pave the way for better things to come.
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That said, Strahinja Pavlovic is certainly worth a punt for the reigning Scottish champions.