HANNES WOLF is a player at crossroads. And it very much looks like the choice is between a path back home, or taking a chance on the road less travelled.

The Borussia Monchengladbach playmaker has been all-but frozen out of Adi Hütter’s squad despite their struggles in the Bundesliga this season, alerting Rapid Vienna in his homeland of Austria, as well as Celtic, with Ange Postecoglou known to be keen on bringing him to Glasgow.

The 22-year-old’s career so far has been a tale of unfulfilled potential, with a bright start at RB Salzburg giving no clue to the struggles that lay ahead of him when he made it to the Bundesliga, first with Salzburg’s sister club RB Leipzig, and then with Gladbach.

German football expert Derek Rae was commentating on Gladbach’s unexpected win over Bayern Munich on Friday night, when Wolf was an unused substitute despite a raft of players being unavailable due to Covid issues and the African Cup of Nations.

What he has seen of the player of late - or what little he has seen of him - has him convinced that a change of scenery is not only inevitable in this transfer window, but it is essential for the rejuvenation of his career. And Celtic may well be the ideal place to spark that renaissance.

“At one point they were making a few substitutions out of necessity on Friday,” Rae said.

“They were down to their last substitution, and the camera panned to Hannes Wolf. He takes his tracksuit trousers off, he’s about to come on, then the injury situation clarifies after a couple of minutes, a substitution is made, but it isn’t him who comes on.

“I said it in commentary that it sums it all up for Wolf at the moment, he just can’t catch a break.

“He needs to play. He’s young enough that there’s still a career to be had for him, but time is getting away from him a little bit now.”

A serious injury just as he was making his big initial move to Germany certainly didn’t help.

“I think with Hannes there have been a few things in his career that have gone against him,” Rae explained.

“There was the broken ankle that he suffered when he was on the verge of joining Leipzig from Salzburg. Obviously, he’s come through the Salzburg system and they have the tie-in with Leipzig.

“He was playing at the under-21s in the summer of 2019 with Austria and suffered the ankle break, and it essentially cost him the first half of that season working under Julian Nagelsmann at Leipzig.

“He then annoyed Nagelsmann with a comment he made. He was no sooner back and available, played a game or two, and then in that winter break he said he wanted to go somewhere on loan because he needed to play.

“Nagelsmann didn’t take kindly to that, and he said that it was the problem with a lot of young players now. If things aren’t going their way they don’t want to fight, they just want to go somewhere where things are a bit more comfortable.

“The solution they came up with was to move him on to Gladbach on loan, but with a buy option. That buy option kicked in, so he’s Gladbach’s player.

“I hate to say it, but they are sort of stuck with him now. He’s contracted until 2024. I believe they paid a €1.5m loan fee and then €9m on top of that which kicked in automatically on him meeting those requirements.

“So, he now finds himself at a club where there is a lot of competition for players of his style. He’s what I would call an attacking all-rounder, to use the German parlance. He’s quite comfortable in any attacking position.

"If you asked him himself, he would say he is a number 10, he’s a playmaker. But he’s often used out wide, you often find him out on the left when he plays, but his appearances have really been thin on the ground this season. He’s well down the pecking order.

“He’s only made seven appearances so far in the Bundesliga, his performances have been poor, I don’t think anybody would dispute that. Every Gladbach fan would say the same.

“He’s not taken advantage of the few opportunities he’s had, and he’s not been in the picture at all since matchday 10, which was the end of October. And that was just a brief appearance off the bench. He hasn’t started a game since September 18th, when they lost 1-0 away to Augsburg.

“He needs for his own career’s sake - and I’m sure his advisors are telling him this - to go somewhere to build his confidence back, because there is definitely a player there. We haven’t seen it for a long time, and the question is; where does he go to achieve that?”

If it is to be Celtic, the worry may be that with the likes of Tom Rogic, David Turnbull and now Reo Hatate and potentially Riley McGree to compete with, might he find himself in the same situation in Glasgow that he is currently facing in Gladbach?

“There would be crossover issues,” he said. “He doesn’t just have to play centrally, although he likes to play there. He can be handy in other positions too.

“But it comes down to making the right decision for himself and doing his homework. It could well be that he maybe doesn’t get crowded out at Celtic, but he may not be able to prosper the way he would want to at this stage.

“I know that Rapid have also been extensively touted as having an interest, and sometimes when you are in that situation, home is best. We’ve seen that with Scottish players going to England maybe and struggling, then coming back to Scotland and finding their game again. Logically, that might be the preferred option for him.”

What may swing the pendulum in Celtic’s favour though is the reputation of manager Postecoglou as a reviver of fortunes, to which the likes of Rogic and Anthony Ralston can testify.

“Players and their agents nowadays look at these things,” Rae said. "What’s the style of play? Who would you be playing under? How might we be a fit with him?

“I talk from time to time with Thomas Broich, who was a German player who played under Ange in Australia. Thomas told me from the very start that he would be a great choice for Celtic.

“He says that he is the best coach he ever played under. He had only ever worked under German coaches, and he very quickly concluded that what they were being asked to do was different and difficult, but that it made him a better player.

“He’s in coaching nowadays at Hertha, and he feels it made him a better coach as well.

“Word gets around, so people in Germany – while maybe not watching Celtic week-in, week-out, will know that Ange has gone there and it may be something exciting to players.”