Celtic have had a remarkable season under new manager Brendan Rodgers, winning their 6th consecutive Scottish Premiership title, with the added gloss of an unbeaten record.
The Bhoys have just dropped 6 points over the course of the season and have also won the Scottish League Cup and stand a great chance of completing a domestic treble as they find themselves in the semifinals of the Scottish Cup as well.
The likes of Moussa Dembele, Scott Sinclair have made serious impact since arriving in the summer, while the likes of Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong have all managed to progress under Rodgers this season. Another player who played a key role for Celtic in the early parts of the season, but now finds himself out of the first team is Erik Sviatchenko.
The 25-year old arrived at the Parkhead in January 2016 from Danish club FC Midtjylland, signed by former manager Ronny Deila, as Ronny wasn’t convinced of the abilities of Dedryck Boyata and Jozo Simunovic. Since his arrival, Sviatchenko has been a regular in the backline for Celtic and was a prominent member of the team for the first-half of the season as well.
But since the turn of the year, the £2.34m rated defender has found it hard to get regular playing time in the starting XI, with Rodgers preferring the defensive partnership of Boyata and Simunovic. This development has reportedly upset the Danish defender. Sviatchenko went on record, speaking to BT in Denmark (h/t Sport Witness) earlier this month and said that he is frustrated with the lack of playing time he has been afforded in recent weeks. He said:
“Since January, I have not figured as much as I had hoped. It is the first time in my career, I have sat on the bench and not been selected, although in fact I’m fit. It is not optimal and it is a new situation I must deal with.”
“If he has decided that I am third choice, I will do everything to prove that I must be one of the two in the middle. And the thing that strikes me is that I train really well, and I feel in good shape. Right now it’s frustrating.”
While he hasn’t said that he is looking for an immediate exit, this development has put several teams on high-alert and one of those teams are last season’s Premier League winners Leicester City.
Leicester have seen tremendous highs and lows over the past year or so, after having won the title last time around to having had to fight relegation this campaign. One of the main reasons for their sudden fall from grace this season has been their ageing centre-back partnership of Wes Morgan and Robert Huth.
The defensive duo were the cornerstone of the title-winning campaign for the Foxes last season, but have been found out on one more than one occasions this time around. They may have found some sort of form in the past few weeks, but with age not on their side, things will hardly get easier from here.
Yohan Benalouane has shown that he can deputise in the absence of either of the two first-choice centre-halves, but he too is some way off the quality required to be a first-team member of Leicester for a complete season. Molla Wague will be returning to Granada at the end of the season when his loan deal expires, while Marcin Wasilewski is also headed for an exit, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
So it is imperative that Leicester look to reinforce their back line in the summer. Sviatchenko fits the bill perfectly for the Foxes. Strong, and possessing a decent amount of pace as well, the 25-year old is tailor-made for Premier League. He also has the ability to carry the ball out of defence and has the range of distribution to pick teammates out from the deep.
Leicester could very well do with someone of his ilk in their ranks. However, it is extremely unlikely that Celtic would let go of Sviatchenko in the summer, especially considering the fact that his contract runs until the summer of 2020.
Also, Sviatchenko himself also wouldn’t be too excited about the move and might see it as a step-down as he will go from a side where he challenges for trophies and gets to play in the Champions League, to a team who, until last month, looked set for a drop to the second-tier of English football.
But it shouldn’t discourage Leicester from making an approach in the summer because if they manage to convince him to move to the King Power Stadium, they will have a solution for their defensive frailties for the years to come.