Aaron Mooy has recently made the switch to Celtic from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port FC. Once again, Mooy will be under the tutelage of his former national team gaffer and fellow Aussie, Ange Postecoglou, as the 31-year-old’s return to European football coincides with Celtic’s own return to the pinnacle of European competition, the UEFA Champions League — but what can the Bhoys expect from Mooy this season?
The role of Mooy is a contentious one amongst Celtic fans, many see him playing a holding midfield role with McGregor returning to his former advanced role, occupying a more attack-minded approach and position, just as he did under Brendan Rodgers. While others (including myself) see him as a like-for-like replacement for fellow countryman the recently departed Tom Rogic.
The deeper role could work with Mooy if he and Celtic play a similar kind of game as Juventus did with Andrea Pirlo in that role but it is hard to see this being the case, although, Mooy’s passing is tremendous, of course not as good as Pirlo’s, he could control the tempo in domestic games… Europe however is a different story.
Mooy at his best is a direct attacking playmaker, he can put the odd tackle in and isn’t afraid of a 50/50, but defending is not really his game, which lends more to the theory of him being brought in as Rogic’s replacement — plus the fact the two are similar sorts of players. Mooy is not as skilful when compared to Rogic (although who is) but he is still capable of beating players with flicks and tricks, his advantages are his passing ability especially those from distance, his ability to cross the ball, and in hitting shots from range he is on par with Rogic if not slightly better.
If this was Aaron Mooy fresh from being Huddersfield Town’s most exciting player in the Premier League, or the Aaron Mooy who led Huddersfield to promotion (winning player of the year in the process) that was joining Celtic,
then Celtic would have the best player in Scottish Football by some distance cause he was that good. However, it is not that Aaron Mooy Celtic have signed.
Don’t get me wrong Mooy is a good signing for Celtic, surely he is still a fantastic footballer and will add to the Scottish Champions, but the reality is; Mooy has just spent two years in China, in a league where foreigners for the most part just show up and pick up their paycheck. Combining this with the fact Mooy didn’t play very often for Shanghai during those two years and it is conclusive enough for me that this is a lesser version of Aaron Mooy coming into Ange’s squad.
Even Brighton didn’t get the very best of Aaron Mooy, sure they saw a good version before his departure to Asia, but this still paled in comparison with his performances whilst in Yorkshire.
Celtic fans should expect Mooy to be in and around the squad this season with most appearances coming from the bench in games with lots of space in the middle of the park, he will get tested in the holding position from time to time
but it’s probable the Australian will overall feature more in the advanced role. Mooy will definitely have games were he is top drawer and will show glimpses of being the player he was in the Premier League, but it is hard to believe those kinds of performances will come consistently after the uncompetitive years in China.
I’d love to be wrong because as negative as all this sounds, it’s purely just how good he was at Huddersfield that it just doesn’t seem possible to attain that standard again, but make no mistake about it Celtic have got hold of a talented player.