Crystal Palace & Brighton: Celtic star Armstrong set for Premier League move
Find out more about the Scotland international that rivals Palace and Brighton are battling to bring down south.
Stuart Armstrong is finally set to move to the Premier League this summer.
After blocking a potential move last summer, Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will not stand in the midfielder’s way if the Hoops’ valuation is met.
With just one year remaining on his contract and, having seen his stock fall last season, Armstrong could be available for as little as £3 million.
However, Celtic hope that a bidding war could push this figure North of £6 million.
What will his next club be buying?
Stuart Armstrong is an excellent creative midfielder capable of performing a number of different roles across the middle and forward areas of the pitch.
Standing at six foot, the 26-year-old is a graceful dribbler, with the ability to break the lines with mazy dribbles and clever movement.
Almost equally adept on his supposedly weaker left foot, Armstrong is a significant goal threat, either through shooting from range or from arriving in the penalty area at just the right time.
He is hardworking and unlike some elegant playmakers, is difficult to bully physically, making him well suited to the rigours of Premier League football.
Up until the 2017-18 season, Armstrong had been an incredibly consistent performer across spells at Dundee United and Celtic.
His performances for the Arabs earned him a place in the Scottish Premiership’s team of the year in 2013-14, also receiving the honour twice more after moving to Celtic in January 2015.
What’s gone wrong for him at Celtic?
This time a year ago Armstrong could do no wrong in a Hoops jersey. Having scored 15 goals and assisted seven in Celtic’s treble-winning season, Rodgers was happy to give the 26-year-old a significantly improved contract to stay at the club beyond the two years his deal had left to run at the time.
Armstrong rejected the deal however and instructed his agent Liam O’Donnell to find him a move down south. A stand-off ensued, with neither side willing to budge.
This carried into the new season. Armstrong started just 14 league games, with Callum McGregor proving himself to be a more than adequate replacement.
Injury also harmed his international prospects. The season before Gordon Strachan had awarded him his first cap just four days shy of his 25th birthday.
He quickly made up for lost time, with Strachan labelling his performance against Slovenia “the best Scottish debut we’ve ever seen.”
But injury ruled him out of the crucial reverse fixture against the Slovenians in November, and being out of favour at Celtic will not endear him to new Scotland manager Alex McLeish.
Which suitor should he sign for?
With Yohan Cabaye likely to reject Palace’s contract offer to head back to France, Armstrong could be in mind as a remarkably cheap replacement.
Jason Puncheon was starting to struggle with the rigours of Premier League football even before his nasty knee ligament injury, meaning Palace will have another midfield spot to fill. In addition, World Cup-bound Ruben Loftus-Cheek will be returning to Chelsea after the tournament ends.
Armstrong can offer them creativity that losing Cabaye would deprive Palace of – as well as an opportunity to link up with international teammate James McArthur.
A move to Brighton could be more difficult, with the excellent playmaker Pascal Gross signing a new contract. Armstrong could play in a midfield two behind the German, but whether Chris Hughton would want to sacrifice solidity in favour of more guile remains to be seen.
A move to Crystal Palace seems to be the best option for all parties, and whilst Celtic will be hoping for a reasonable fee for a player that they’ve developed a lot, the Premier League will be gaining a classy player.
Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss Group D in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.