Celtic’s final signing of the summer transfer window, Cristian Gamboa, arrived in Glasgow after being at English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion for two years. But not much is known about Gamboa north of the border, so we asked Baggies fan, Nathan Carr, about the Costa Rican defender.
I’m actually in the minority of Albion fans who rate Cristian Gamboa and think we wasted him at West Brom. Along with fellow full-back Sebastian Pocognoli – who has just moved to Brighton on a season-long loan – he was completely marginalised under Tony Pulis and made to play for our Under-21s against the likes of Nuneaton Town and Hednesford Town (no disrespect to those clubs, of course!).
Not exactly what he would have imagined himself doing after reaching the World Cup quarter-finals two years ago.
The 26-year-old was never going to succeed with Pulis in charge, however. As many readers will already know, Pulis likes his backline to comprise of four physically imposing centre-backs and Gamboa definitely isn’t a physically imposing centre-back.
So what Gamboa offer? What are the positives and the negatives:
Pace: Gamboa’s raw speed is probably his strongest attribute. Although we didn’t get to see it much at West Brom, he’s always looking for an opportunity to break forward and get his side up the pitch. Not many can catch him, that’s for sure.
Enthusiasm: He comes across as a very passionate and enthusiastic footballer. He gives everything in every game – no matter the circumstance. I remember our League Cup tie at Bournemouth during the Alan Irvine era and we lost to a last-minute winner. I thought Gamboa was one of the stand-out performers for us and he was visibly upset at full-time, tears streaming down his face because we had been eliminated from the competition. Nobody else was that visibly upset and that stuck with me. Celtic supporters should warm to him and the commitment he shows.
Crossing: As an attack-minded full-back, Gamboa regularly finds himself in advanced positions where there are opportunities to cross. His final ball is generally pretty good.
Lack of positional awareness: Quite a few Baggies fans have highlighted this as a particular weakness. He can sometimes be naïve in terms of getting drawn into situations on the field when he doesn’t need to, and then the opposition can exploit the space left behind.
I actually feel that Gamboa would be better suited as a right winger because there is less emphasis on the defensive side of things and he’d have more freedom to use his pace with a teammate behind him. He essentially works best as a wing-back, where he played so well for his country Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup.
Not the tallest: This is a rather obvious statement but it does affect his game. His lack of height does mean that he is often dominated in the air. It is important to have bigger defenders around him to compensate for this.
I think Celtic have acquired a very good player at a very reasonable price. The last couple of seasons have been hard for him but he’s remained dignified throughout. Some players might have thrown a strop or made a scene yet he kept his head down, maintained his fitness and now he’s been presented with a great opportunity to reignite his career at Celtic with the added bonus of Champions League football.
I believe he’ll be a success under Brendan Rogers, a manager who clearly has faith in him. Everyone at West Brom wishes him well.
Written by Nathan Carr – check out his twitter account @BaggiesGalore