Celtic’s new Swedish centre back Gustaf Lagerbielke made his first media appearance at Celtic Park today and was only too happy to discuss his strengths, ambitions and first impressions of his new surroundings.
The gap in Brendan Rodgers’ squad left by Carl Starfelt was swiftly addressed by the £3 million signing of the defender, who arrives from Swedish league-leaders IF Elfsborg on a five-year deal.
Having followed a summer football schedule whilst playing in the Allsvenskan, the 22-year-old has touched down in Glasgow with full match fitness and sharpness – something he was keen to point out.
“I definitely feel fit. I played a game on Sunday in Sweden, so I’m match fit and ready to play.” he said.
“One of the best things about playing in Sweden is that when you leave in the summer, you’re match fit and don’t need a pre-season, so I feel ready to play.”
Signing for Celtic tends to require a notable change in style of play for centre-backs, as they’re often relied on for starting attacks in a side familiar with dominating possession.
For the Hoops’ latest signing through, this promises to be a comfortable transition, with the Swede describing passing out from the back as a strength of his game.
“It’s a football (style) that I really like playing,” he said.
“Playing for possession, nice football with lots of intensity and always attack minded – I think it will suit me well.
“Passing and long passing are some of my strengths. I’ve always tried to improve my left foot to get it as good as possible, and that benefits me on the left slightly, but I can play on both sides of defence.”
It’s been a rapid rise for the six-foot-three giant, who spent parts of last year out on loan before establishing himself as a vital component of an over-achieving Elfsborg team.
Having earned a big move so quickly after his breakthrough, we asked how he felt he’d grown and improved in order to become such an important squad member this year.
“I think I’m showing more leadership, developing into the group and taking more responsibility in games – showing what I can do and my strengths,” he said.
“I really think I improved, taking more space in the group as well as on the pitch, not just playing for the sake of winning.”
TOUGH ACT(S) TO FOLLOW
Of course, Lagerbielke joins a long line of Swedish Celts, with names like Henrik Larsson, Johan Mjallby and Mikael Lustig firmly ingrained into the club’s modern history.
Having now followed in their footsteps, Celtic’s new number four spoke highly of his compatriot predecessors, as well as his knowledge of the club as a whole.
He said: “It’s a huge connection to Henrik Larsson of course, he scored so many goals on the Swedish national team and is maybe one of the best ever players from Sweden.
And I know about the fans – it’s a really good atmosphere, it’s a really big club with good supporters and huge history with winning titles.”
With Cameron Carter-Vickers likely to miss Celtic’s League Cup clash at Rugby Park on Sunday, all eyes now turn to whether or not we’ll see a new name added to the team sheet of the defending champions!
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