The Curious Case of Carl Starfelt

Carl Starfelt Moves On After Two Seasons In The Hoops

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After much speculation Celtic finally confirmed this morning that Carl Starfelt has left Celtic for pastures new in the Spanish Primera Division with RC Celta.

Starfelt joined Celtic in July of 2021 as one of Ange Postecoglou’s first signings at the club. He would go on to represent The Hoops with 87 appearances and in his time at the club he won five out of a possible six domestic trophies.

When played alongside defensive stalwart Cameron Carter-Vickers, the Swedish defender never lost a game in the Scottish Premiership.

Starfelt’s departure has come as a surprise to some but the writing was on the wall after comments from Brendan Rodgers following the opening day win over Ross County.

“He’s a player we’d like to keep but if he doesn’t want to be here, we have to close the deal. That’s something that’ll develop next week,” the Celtic manager informed.

“There are certain conditions that have made him think he will be going to one of the top leagues, and economically it’s hard for us to compete on that side, and obviously his partner is no longer here.”

Starfelt Gets A Shot Away Against Rangers
Starfelt Gets A Shot Away Against Rangers

Some of these conditions are obvious – better wages, playing in a better league, and of course, escaping the Scottish weather.

And, if some conspiracy theorists are to be believed, he wanted to leave to be closer to his partner, former Celtic Women star Jacynta Galabadaarachchi who joined Sporting Lisbon over the summer.

Either way, the deal is done so now is the time to reflect on Starfelt’s contribution in a Celtic shirt.

Impressive Stats

Chris Hamill, an executive producer for The Athletic focusing on Celtic, provided some eye-opening stats on the defender.

Last year in the Scottish Premiership, Starfelt’s figures were as follows:

  • 1st For Interceptions
  • 1st For Clearances
  • Joint 1st For Blocks
  • 1st For Long Balls Completed
  • 82% Tackle Success Rate

The merits of the Premiership and the quality Celtic face will be the subject of endless debate, but those figures are undoubtedly impressive.

So, why haven’t some supporters taken a shine to Starfelt as much as others?

Mixed Opinions

Carl Starfelt is, undoubtedly, an extremely awkward football player. As the stats above show, he is an excellent defender and can usually be counted upon in defensive situations to make the right decision.

The Swedish Defender Against Benzema's Real Madrid
The Swedish Defender Against Benzema’s Real Madrid

His problem in a Celtic shirt came with the pressure that comes with a Celtic defender having more of the ball than any other position in the team, as is the norm against sides that camp inside their own half in home matches.

When not under pressure, Carl was perfectly serviceable on the ball – his issues came when opponents sprung a press which forced him into action.

Is he one of the most one-footed Celtic players ever? A bit of hyperbole there, but he certainly struggled with his left foot which, to be fair to him, was asked of him beyond his comfort zone as he was deployed on the left-hand side of the defence to accommodate for CCV.

Still, his inability to pass with his left foot left him cutting an extremely awkward figure. He would often swivel his entire lower half to try and force his right foot onto the ball to make the pass.

That moment of hesitation proved costly on a couple of occasions and at the very least, invited opponents forward into our area.

Starfelt was a good player for the club and he will probably be missed, but the manner of his surprise departure has likely contributed more to his reputation than his actual impact on the team.

The impressive performance of new Bhoy Maik Nawrocki in his league debut against Ross County has softened the blow on this one.

Nawrocki took time to find his feet in the game, but once he did, he cut a confident figure striding up the park to pick out passes – a skill that Starfelt never truly mastered during his time in the Hoops.

However, he’ll be fondly remembered for his contributions in a green and white shirt and we wish him well in Spain.

Listen to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we discuss Rodgers’ Tactical Tweaks, Two Goal Turnbull and Starfelt’s Imminent Exit!

Available wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking the player below, or by listening here at The Celtic Exchange website.

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