Why Celtic should go back in the market for free agent Andrea Bertolacci
According to a previous report from the Daily Record during the summer transfer window, Celtic were linked with a move for Italian international Andrea Bertolacci, who was a free agent after leaving AC Milan at the end of the previous campaign.
However, the Hoops turned their focus elsewhere and the 28-year-old midfielder, who was linked with a host of other clubs, including Celtic, following his departure from the San Siro, is yet to find himself a new club.
A youth product of Roma, Bertolacci struggled for opportunities at his boyhood club but went on to enjoy fruitful spells at Lecce and Genoa in the Serie A, while also earning 5 caps for Italy at the senior international level.
Bertolacci accumulated a total of 13 goals and 15 assists in 124 appearances across all competitions for Genoa before his burgeoning reputation in Italy paved the way for a €20 million move to heavyweights AC Milan back in the summer of 2015.
However, the 28-year-old never really managed to live up to the hype at Milan and managed only 52 appearances for the Rossoneri over the course of four seasons, spending time on loan at his former club Genoa in the 2017-18 campaign after falling out of favour.
A central midfielder by trade, Bertolacci not only has the versatility to adapt to holding, box-to-box and attacking roles in the middle of the park but he has the required attributes to contribute equally to both attack and defence.
An industrious, yet creative presence in the midfield, the Italian excels with his positioning, ability to break up the play and carry the ball forward, while his propensity for making late runs into the box makes him a decent attacking threat for his team further up the pitch.
To put things into perspective, it is a real shame to see such a wonderful all-round player like Andrea Bertolacci struggling to find a new club and Celtic would do themselves a world of good by going back in the market to secure his services.
Given that he is still a free agent, Celtic should have not problems in registering him outside of the transfer window.
While the Hoops are currently well-stocked in their midfield department, the reigning champions should be wise enough to know that Bertolacci is very much in his prime and his arrival would be a massive boost to their European ambitions.
Neil Lennon has been quite content to stick with Callum McGregor and Scott Brown in his midfield pivot, with Olivier Ntcham also featuring in a deep midfield role on a rotational basis.
Tom Rogic is back from his injury but he is more of a creative midfielder in a No.10 role and not really someone who offers a lot defensively.
Ntcham and McGregor are, indeed, quality players but the ageing legs of skipper Brown, though still good enough for the Scottish Premiership, have often proven to be insufficient against better quality opposition in European competitions.
Bertolacci boasts of a bagful of experience at the highest level and it is easy to see that he could add that little bit more finesse and craft to Celtic’s midfield, while also increasing competition for places.
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With the Hoops looking to make it nine-in-a-row on the domestic front and also impress in the Europa League, adequate depth in all areas of the pitch is a necessity and the acquisition of the 28-year-old Italian for free would certainly be a massive coup.