In this new series of articles, we’ll be taking a look at players around the Scottish Premiership and beyond that are knocking on the door of a move to a bigger club. It’s no secret that Celtic and Rangers like to hoover up the best talents that Scotland has to offer, so we’ve decided to look at some exciting prospects that could one day make the jump to the Old Firm.

With Shane Duffy seemingly a certainty to return to Brighton this summer after his series of high-profile errors, Christopher Jullien facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines and Kristoffer Ajer’s future at the club up in the air, Celtic will surely be in the market for a new centre-half this summer.

With that in mind, we’ve had a look around Scotland’s top flight for players that could be on the Parkhead hierarchy’s radar – and if they are indeed after a new central defender, they could do a lot worse than Hibernian’s Ryan Porteous.

The Scotland Under-21 internationalist has become a key figure in the heart of Jack Ross’ defence this term. Porteous has racked up 2,397 minutes of league football this season – placing him inside the Premiership’s top 30 outfield players in this regard – and has developed into a more mature defender than his 21 years would suggest.

First and foremost, it’s important to realise just how promising Porteous is. When we look at players aged 23 and under in the Premiership, the Hibs youth academy graduate finds himself mixing it with the best in the biz across a whole range of defensive metrics.

Porteous wins 73.3 percent of his defensive duels this season – for players in his age bracket, only three (St Johnstone defender Jamie McCart, St Mirren’s Conor McCarthy and Stephen Welsh of Celtic) outperform the Hibs man. When we adjust for possession, Porteous completes 8.5 interceptions per 90 minutes played, leaving him tenth – marginally ahead of the likes of Ajer (8.35).


READ MORE: Scouting Report: Why Celtic or Rangers should sign Benjamin Siegrist

These statistics tell us that Porteous is a good reader of the game and that he is already highly competent in robbing the opposition of the ball, whether that be via a tackle or an interception. But there is one aspect of the young defender’s game that requires serious improvement if he is to truly kick on and fulfil his potential.

Winning your headers and being dominant in the air is a prerequisite for any centre-half worth his salt, and it’s fair to say that Porteous’ stats are a little concerning in this area. He wins just under 60 percent of all of his aerial duels, and that figure drops to just 51.3 percent when he’s in his own box. By way of comparison, Duffy – who wins more aerial duels in his own penalty area than any other player in the league – has a success rate of around 83 percent. Ajer, meanwhile, is marginally ahead of Porteous and wins his duels 52.4 percent of the time.

Clearly, there’s a problem here. But the good news for Porteous is that the solution is a simple one: he requires coaching. It’s his positioning that often leaves him short in this department and the odd pointer here and there on the training ground could lead to vast improvement on this front.

Of course, a modern centre-half needs to be able to play with the ball at his feet, too. Duffy has been found out in this Celtic side because he’s not that kind of player – stick him in a team with a low defensive line where he’s not expected to do much on the ball, and he’ll likely do well. The issue, as Celtic fans know only too well, is that when he’s asked to play a bit, calamity ensues.

READ MORE: Jonathan Gould on the managerial dark horse he believes could emulate Wim Jansen and Martin O'Neill at Celtic

Just 45.8 percent of Duffy’s long passes reach their intended target; a woeful return that encapsulates just how wasteful the Irishman has been in possession this season. Porteous’ passes are laser-guided by comparison, with the defender’s long balls forward finding their man 60 percent of the time: Livingston’s Jack Fitzwater (62.1 percent) is the only outfield player in Porteous’ age range to do better. And that includes Ajer (55.4 percent).

What this tells us is that Porteous already possesses many of the raw ingredients required to be a top defender in Scotland and that with a little work on the training ground and with the right tutelage, the centre-half could quickly develop into one of Scotland’s best defenders. And with a major rebuild on the horizon for Celtic, there will be no better time to snap up the youngster. Porteous is already demonstrating that he can hold his own against everything the Premiership has to offer and with the right coaching, he could develop into a first-team regular at Parkhead for years to come.