Now that the summer is here, and rumors — sorry, rumours — abound with who’s going where and why, a couple of goalkeepers have popped up on Celtic’s radar, according to the press, pundits and various rumour mills.
With the departure of Vasilis Barkas to FC Utrecht on a season-long loan (and we all know what that means . . .), the best way to describe it is that there’s a vacancy on the Celtic bench for a backup goalkeeper to Joe Hart, who is a god among men between the sticks.
Putting aside the fact that the forgotten Scott Bain is a more-than-adequate backup to the Sacred Hart, the two top goalkeeper candidates possibly destined for Hoopdom next season, if you believe the reports and the pundits, are FC St. Pauli’s Nikola Vasilj and Dundee United’s Benjamin Siegrist.
As many of you already know, I am not only a Celtic fan but I am also a FC St. Pauli fan. Whenever “Hell’s Bells” comes on the radio while in the car, I blast it regardless of where I am or who is with me (often making my daughter say, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaad.”) But I digress. The point is that I spent last season watching both Celtic and St. Pauli games, pretty much in equal amounts. And Vasilj, in large part, is one of the reasons the Boys in Brown from Hamburg nearly got promoted to the Bundesliga.
But — and this is a big “but,” and I cannot lie — frankly, I’d much rather see Vasilj stay at St. Pauli for the simple reason that he’d be starting there, he’d be excelling between the sticks if last season is any indication, and he and others on the squad would hopefully prove that St. Pauli’s flirtation with promotion last season wasn’t just a hoax.
Which leaves us with Siegrist.
To relate how Siegrist would be an asset to Celtic would require me to tell you a tale from these shores, from another sport no less. In the ’90s, the San Francisco Giants just missed the playoffs after winning 102 games — Atlanta had won 103 that year — and during the 162-game season, a pitcher named Mark Portugal of the Houston Astros had the Giants’ number, beating them six times over the course of the season. The Giants, in the offseason, acquired Portugal from the Astros and ended up winning the division the following season.
Siegrist — like Zander Clark of St. Johnstone (the final game of the season notwithstanding) — always seems to give Celtic fits when he’s playing in goal for Dundee United. He’s solid between the posts and while some have mentioned a questionable degree of talent with the ball at his feet, any shortcomings can be easily fixed by Stevie Woods, the universe’s greatest goalkeeping coach.
So if you’re following along, Siegrist joining Celtic would erase any annoying top-rate performances against us next season because, well, he’s on our team now.
But . . . Siegrist is an A-level player both in the SPFL and internationally, and whether he’d want to just sit on the Celtic bench and watch Hart is something that may not be to his liking.
Nevertheless, all of this is conjecture at this point — talk that can only fuel pub discussions and set off Twitter wars. But it remains to be seen what the Hoops do in the off-season to bolster their already talented squad.
Mon the Hoops!