Celtic eye move for consistent defender

Ben Davies at Preston

You get the feeling that Celtic wish they could start their season all over again.

Heading into their clash with Motherwell on Sunday afternoon, they are nine points behind fierce rivals Rangers and they are no longer in Europe.

Their midweek Champions League defeat to Hungarian opposition was extremely embarrassing, but fortunately, they have an opportunity to write those wrongs almost instantly. 

The Hoops are facing rather unnecessary pressure. Their season cast into doubt by the foolish behaviour of Boli Bolingol, they're playing catch-up to the rest of the league.

With ten titles in a row in their sights, this was not how things were supposed to go. The script had been written for the Bhoys to achieve a historic number of SPFL crowns.

Neil Lennon's side may still go on to do just that, but at the moment, it looks a long way off. 

Do we finally have a title race on our hands? Let's not jump the gun, but it's looking positive for the neutral. 

Neil Lennon

If Celtic want to contest then they'll have to keep hold of their best players. After exiting Europe, there are greater fears that Kristoffer Ajer will leave Parkhead behind.

Fortunately, Nick Hammond already has the Norwegian's replacement in mind.

According to The Daily Record, he'll target a move for Preston defender Ben Davies.

A centre-back who is also capable of playing as a left-back, the Englishman has been displaying excellent consistency for Alex Neil's side. 

Davies is valued at just £2.16m, via Transfermarkt, and with his contract expiring next summer he could leave Deepdale on the cheap.

Southampton may pay £20m for Ajer so they should still have plenty left in the kitty to spend elsewhere by landing Davies.

Ben Davies at Preston

GIVEMESPORT'S Matt Dawson says...

Scottish audiences may not know much about Davies, but he was fantastic for Preston last season in a campaign where they largely defied expectations.

They finished ninth, just four points off the play-offs, and Celtic's transfer target was a big part of their success. 

He won a colossal 3.2 aerial duels per match across the entire season, a tally that accounted for a game where he won as many as ten headers versus Leeds. His ability in the air is one of the most impressive parts of his game, but Davies also knows how to pass.

His pass success rate last term was 75.9%, so he shouldn't have too much trouble stepping into the shoes of Ajer.

Ben Davies at Preston

The 25-year-old has had five loan spells away from Preston but it's only in the last few years that he's established himself. No wonder his rise has been described as "phenomenal" by journalist George Hodgson. 

Davies has been playing at a consistent level for a number of years now. His manager, Neil, said the following in 2018: "Ben is probably playing well nine times out of 10." 

Celtic could find themselves an absolute bargain here.

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