With the 2018 FIFA World Cup almost upon us, all attention will be on the summer’s football extravaganza in Russia over the period of the next month.
Often, it has been seen that strong performances in a World Cup end up working wonders for a footballer’s career. James Rodriguez became a Galactico after his exploits with Colombia four years ago, so did Keylor Navas after a brilliant World Cup campaign with Costa Rica.
There have been numerous other examples when footballers have gone on to make a huge impact on the biggest footballing stage, thereby increasing their reputation. As a result, the upcoming World Cup will be a great place for the clubs to look out for new talents to add to their squads. Having said that, here are three players who Scottish champions Celtic should keep a keen eye on during the proceedings in Russia.
Pontus Jansson (Sweden)
The Swedish defender has been one of the best performers in the Championship over the past couple of seasons for Leeds United. Having been picked in the 23-man squad by Sweden, he could partner captain Andreas Granqvist at the heart of the defence. He is someone Celtic should keep an eye on.
Despite Leeds’ struggles last season, the 27-year-old was one of their better performers. He is considered as one of the best centre-backs in the division.
He finished the season with 43 appearances across all competitions for the Whites, scoring 3 goals in the process. A tall and an imposing figure at the back, Jansson is strong in the air and composed with the ball at his feet.
Given Celtic’s fallibility in defence last season, they could make do with adding someone of Jansson’s qualities to their backline.
Fahad Al-Muwallad (Saudi Arabia)
Regarded as one of the brightest young players in Asia, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Muwallad could be another interesting prospect for Celtic to look at. The 23-year-old plies his trade at Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ittihad. The winger spent the second half of last campaign on loan at La Liga club Levante.
Despite making just two appearances in Spain, Al-Muwallad is held in high regard, owing to his natural abilities and blistering pace. He played an important hand in Saudi Arabia’s comfortable qualification to the main event in Russia and has already scored 10 times in 44 appearances for the Green Falcons.
Celtic lost Patrick Roberts following the expiry of his loan deal at the end of the 2017/18 campaign. As a result, Celtic are in need of a fast and tricky wide player, who can score goals as well as create. Al-Muwallad ticks all the boxes for the Hoops.
Massimo Luongo (Australia)
The 35-time capped Australian international played some of his best football for QPR last season, based on which he has been picked for the World Cup by the Socceroos.
Having come through the youth ranks at Tottenham Hotspur, Luongo has grown into a pivotal player at Loftus Road since moving to the club in 2015. He enjoyed his best campaign to date in the 2017/18 season as the 25-year-old scored 6 goals and provided 3 assists in 39 Championship appearances for QPR and went on to win the Supporters’ Player of the Year award at the club.
Capable of slotting in anywhere in the midfield, Luongo can break up play with strong tackles and smart interceptions. The Aussie is also capable of driving forward and has an eye for goal as well, thus making him a more than handy player to have in the ranks.