Celtic starlet Leo Hjelde is close to completing a move to Premier League side Leeds United, Football Insider reports.
What’s the latest transfer news involving Leo Hjelde?
The report discloses that the clubs have agreed a transfer fee for the 17-year-old, and that he is set to have a medical. Hjelde is expected to complete the move imminently.
Interestingly, even though Hjelde has first-team experience – he featured for Scottish Premiership side Ross County last season – Norwegian football journalist Stian Wahl tweeted that the player is set to team up with the Leeds Under-23 squad.
Did Celtic try to keep Hjelde?
According to Football Insider, Celtic did try to keep the teenager in Glasgow by offering him a new contract.
But the report reveals that Hjelde ‘snubbed’ Celtic’s attempts to get him to sign a new deal, and that he ‘made it clear’ that he wanted to move to England.
Hjelde’s contract at Celtic is due to expire at the end of this season.
Have Celtic made a mistake not tying Hjelde down on a new contract?
It is too early to tell if Celtic have made a mistake regarding Hjelde. The player does seem to be highly-rated – Leeds wouldn’t be after him if he wasn’t.
He also impressed Ross County’s staff last season, playing 12 games for a top fight Scottish side as a 17-year-old. As reported by the Daily Record, then County boss John Hughes compared the starlet to Virgil van Dijk.
But there is a big difference between playing for Ross County and playing for Celtic. There is a lot more pressure at Celtic, where every game is huge and a draw or a defeat can be a crisis.
Only time will tell if either the player or the club have made a mistake.
What is the current centre-back situation at Celtic?
Celtic’s centre-back situation isn’t disastrous but it’s also far from ideal. Transfermarkt shows that the Hoops have four centre-backs in the squad, but Christopher Jullien is injured, and another, Osaze Urhoghide, has yet to play a first-team game for the Hoops.
Midfielder Nir Bitton has often played centre-back, so technically there are four central-defenders available. Hjelde could have provided extra cover in that department after last season’s top flight exposure, but he’s now on his way to Yorkshire.
For now it seems that recent signing Carl Starfelt and Stephen Welsh are the first picks at centre-half. Starfelt has played every game he has been available for since joining the club from Rubin Kazan, whilst Welsh has played three games this season, and completed 90 minutes in the recent 6-0 win over Dundee.
But that might well change depending on the transfer window and when Jullien returns.