Why Celtic should move for Vasilios Barkas if loanee Fraser Forster departs
Fraser Forster has established himself as the undisputed No.1 between the sticks for the Hoops since his loan move north of the border from Southampton earlier in the summer but Neil Lennon has lined up Vasilios Barkas as a feasible alternative should the England international return to his parent club in January or next summer.
Born in The Netherlands to parents of Greek descent, Barkas joined Greek top-flight outfit Atromitos at the youth level back in 2006 and rose through the ranks to make his senior professional debut in the 2014-15 season.
Having caught the eye as a back-up goalkeeper at his boyhood club, the 25-year-old was snapped up by Greek giants AEK Athens in 2016 and he hasn’t looked back since then.
The highly-rated shot-stopper, who already boasts of 10 international caps for Greece, has made a total of 88 appearances for his club in all competitions, conceding 68 goals and managing a staggering 50 clean-sheets in the process.
Those impressive numbers haven’t eluded the eyes of some of the bigger clubs in Europe, with Celtic apparently keen to prise the 6ft.5-inch goalkeeper away from his homeland in the upcoming transfer window.
Barkas, who has earned rave reviews for his consistently impressive performances in goal, was the subject of interest from Frech club Montpellier in the summer but AEK Athens turned down an €8 million bid for the shot-stopper’s services. (h/t Glasgow Evening Times)
To that end, it is pretty clear that AEK Athens are unlikely to let the 25-year-old depart on the cheap anytime soon and with Barkas under contract until 2022, Celtic would probably need to break the bank to bring the Greek international to Parkhead.
Despite that, however, Barkas’ rapid development in his homeland coupled with his fully-fledged international status and experience of playing in the UEFA Champions League certainly makes him worth a punt for Celtic.
With money virtually flowing like water in the transfer market these days, it is imperative to say that quality shot-stoppers are no longer available on the cheap and Celtic should not hesitate to fork out a sizable fee for Vasilios Barkas, who has progressed by leaps and bounds and looks ready to take the next big step in his career.
Forster is already a firm fan favourite at Parkhead and has provided a sense of reliability between the sticks for the Hoops this term, with 36-year-old Craig Gordon playing as an understudy to the Southampton loanee due to an injury to Scott Bain.
However, with Gordon in the autumn of his career and out of contract next summer, Celtic would need to bring in a new No.1 in the future should they fail to secure the services of Forster permanently. Bain, of course, is more than handy but one does get the feeling that they need more quality to make an impact in Europe.
Forster’s previous experience at Parkhead, coupled with his vast know-how of the British game, certainly make him a reliable option for the Hoops but bringing in Vasilios Barkas, who is a young and developing shot-stopper at 25, could make more sense from a financial point of view looking at the long-term plans moving forward.
Agreed, Celtic would probably need to fork out a bigger fee for Barkas that they would if they were to sign Forster permanently, but it is a no-brainer that the Greek international has the quality and the potential to be a long-term goalkeeping solution for the Hoops.
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To conclude, it won’t be so straightforward for Celtic to ditch Forster in favour of signing Barkas but this is a gamble which could possibly go on to pay rich dividends in the years to come.