Liel Abada wows Parkhead with unexpected Celtic performances for Postecoglou
By Charlotte Cohen
I think it’s safe to assume that most Celtic fans had never heard the name Liel Abada when he walked through the gates of Parkhead behind Ange Postecoglou last summer, but he is fast becoming one of the side’s most important attackers.
Abada arrived from Maccabi Petah Tikva for a reported £3.6million, an almighty sum for a 19-year-old who hadn’t even made 40 top-flight appearances in Israel.
But Postecoglou put his faith in him, and the now 20-year-old signed a five-year deal that will see him remain with Celtic until 2026 and the attacker was quick to impression.
Thrown into Celtic’s high stakes season-opening game against Midtjylland in Champions League qualifying, the pressure was on and he certainly delivered. Firing home a goal in a game that finished 1-1 to kick off his Celtic career.
Abada’s place in the team has rarely been questioned, with 41 appearances giving him the most out of any player in the squad – not bad for your first season in a new club, league and country. In fact, the only players who have seen more minutes than the Israeli are captain Callum McGregor and former England goalkeeper Joe Hart.
In the Scottish Premiership, Abada’s haul of nine goals makes him Celtic’s top scorer this season and his six assists are the second highest in the Scottish top flight, behind Rangers captain James Tavernier who has been at the club for nearly seven years.
Former Israel head coach Willi Ruttensteiner gave Abada his first start for the national team at just 19, knowing he was destined to play for a strong European club. And a few weeks later he joined Postecoglou in Glasgow.
Abada’s skill and speed have been developed by playing for the national side.
His tactical dexterity was enhanced by playing as a winger and a striker in Israel’s different systems as well as playing against much older players – which can only have helped to prepare him for the physical challenge of the Scottish top flight.
His recent performances have showcased his natural talent as well as his flexibility as an attacker. Playing as a makeshift striker in December against Ross County, he opened the scoring in what ended up being a key victory as Celtic continue to push for the title.
After the winter break, some stellar performances cemented his place as an integral part of Postecoglou’s Celtic which included a last-gasp goal at Parkhead against Dundee United to keep the title fight alive.
With the potential for guaranteed Champions League football next season if Celtic can win the league, Abada has the chance to show off his talent on Europe’s biggest stage.
Despite some roughness around the edges and fluctuations in his consistency, it’s clear Abada is only going to improve at Celtic over the next five years.
In other Celtic news, starlet Ben Doak has teased Liverpool with a stunning international performance.