Rumours over a move for Owen Beck appeared to have eased in recent weeks but last night, Transfermarkt reignited speculation that Beck could be returning to Scotland for the second half of the Scottish Premiership season.
Beck has been linked with both sides of the Glasgow divide, but, if social media is to be believed, a Celtic loan move is more likely.
👀 Owen Beck has attracted interest from both Celtic and Rangers
Liverpool are likely to sanction another loan this window with Andy Robertson and Konstantinos Tsimikas nearing returns from injury
Could Beck be heading back to Scotland? https://t.co/vGLRZpuXy7
— Transfermarkt.co.uk (@TMuk_news) January 15, 2024
Despite signing a season-long loan with Dundee in the summer, Beck was recalled from his loan on New Year’s Day with Liverpool facing an injury crisis at left back, with Scotland captain Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas both injured.
Beck has already made 17 Scottish Premiership appearances this season at newly promoted Dundee, scoring two goals and providing two assists coincidentally, the same number of goal contributions this season as Celtic’s first-choice left back Greg Taylor, albeit in five fewer appearances than the Scotsman.
What must be taken into consideration is the fact that Beck has played as a left-wing back in a back five 11 times in the Premiership this season, whereas Taylor has played as a left back in a back four in all of his appearances.
Therefore, the responsibility for Dundee’s left side of the attack has almost solely fallen on the young Welshman’s shoulders, whereas Taylor has had the likes of Luis Palma and Mikey Johnston further up the pitch to combine with.
This makes comparing Beck and Taylor difficult, as they have both played different roles in different systems this season.
BECK v TAYLOR: THE DATA
With the role of a left back evolving hugely over the last decade, the importance of being able to progress possession plays a large part in Taylor’s game at Celtic. He averages 0.67 successful dribbles per 90 and is dispossessed 0.76 times per 90. In comparison, Beck stands out, being dispossessed only 0.59 times per 90 and averaging 1.35 successful dribbles.
Passing is certainly Taylor’s strength, and an area where Beck will need to improve, as reflected in the data. Taylor averages 0.27 expected assists (xA) per 90 with 2.01 chances created. In comparison, Beck has an (xA) of 0.16, with only 1.88 chances created per 90.
Taylor also boasts an impressive pass accuracy of 82.1%, completing 64 successful passes per 90. In contrast, Beck falls behind with a pass accuracy of 72.8% and 18.6 successful passes completed per 90. This gap in passing accuracy and further emphasises the contrast in each player’s style of play, with Taylor showing a higher level of accuracy and involvement in the build-up play compared to Beck.
One-vs-one defending is often an area where Taylor is caught out, particularly in the air, winning 1.91 aerial duels with a success rate of 42.1%. Beck’s statistics in the air highlight another area for improvement, averaging only 0.53 aerial duels won per 90, with a success rate of 40.9%.
Beck does excel though in winning duels, securing 5.71 per 90 with a success rate of 54.8%, surpassing Greg Taylor, who follows closely with 5.30 duels won per 90 and a success rate of 49.8%.
It is essential to consider the defensive system Beck plays in the and the benefit from the cover he receives in a back five. Taylor, operating in a 4-3-3 system, tends to be more conservative in challenges, often exposing Celtic to counterattacks when dispossessed. This makes it interesting to imagine how Beck would cope one-on-one against a winger, especially without the support of cover from three centre-backs.
Despite success in his duels, Beck is dribbled past 0.94 times per 90, in comparison Taylor is dribbled past 0.86 times per 90. This indicates that Beck needs to improve the timing of his tackles and positioning, similar to Taylor’s current anticipation, if he is to displace the Scottish international.
Although Beck has an impressive interception rate, averaging 1.29 interceptions per 90 minutes compared to Taylor’s 0.38. Which demonstrates his ability to read the game, anticipate passes, and disrupt opposition play before tackles become necessary. This can therefore lead to smoother transitions to attacking phases and is generally associated with a higher level of positional awareness.
When it comes to tackles won, Beck surpasses Taylor with 1.82 tackles won per 90 compared to Taylor’s 1.29. Despite having a higher total number of tackles won, Beck has a lower tackles won percentage at 62%, while Taylor boasts a higher rate, winning 73% of his tackles.
If Beck were to join Celtic, it would signify a shift in the Hoops’ style of play. The Welshman is more of a traditional full back, whereas Taylor prefers to invert while in possession, creating chances from the middle of the park and combining with both Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley. This is reflected in crossing statistics, with Beck completing 2.06 successful crosses per 90 at a cross accuracy of 30.7%, while Taylor only manages 0.38 successful crosses with a meagre accuracy of 14.8%.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH BY RODGERS?
With Beck’s strengths lying in overlapping and crossing, there appears to be a deliberate departure from the inverted fullback approach commonly associated with Ange Postecoglou. This signals a shift towards a more traditional fullback system, a style that Rodgers has, at times, struggled to implement this season due to Taylor’s lack of athleticism.
Overall, Beck appears to be an exciting potential signing for Celtic, provided they can secure the deal. His addition could bring an extra dimension to the Hoops’ defence in the attacking third of the pitch. With his impressive crossing and dribbling numbers, certainly an upgrade on Taylor, this could lead to an increased number of goals created from the left-hand side.
Despite impressive attacking data, Beck would have to improve how he passes the ball, his aerial ability, the amount of times he is dribbled past, and his tackle success rate if he were to have a chance of displacing Taylor in the second half of the season.
With the most dangerous chances opposition in Scotland create against Celtic, largely coming from set-pieces and counter-attack situations, Beck would almost certainly be exposed with his current data numbers.
(All data from https://www.fotmob.com)
Tune in now to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we cover Nico On The Wing, Abada’s Imminent Exit (?) & Rumours Ramping Up!
Available wherever you get your podcasts, on YouTube or via the player below.