A quality striker is just Watt Standard need
After several weeks of flirting with each other, Tony Watt finally signed on Monday a 5-year contract to Standard Liege, with the difficult task of following on from fans’ favourite Michy Batshuayi. It won’t be easy as the new Marseille striker was second only to Hamdi Harbaoui in the Belgian league’s goalscoring charts last season but Watt certainly has the quality to become a hit in the cauldron of Sclessin.
Watt joined the Hoops in 2011 from Airdrieonians and made an instant impact with the Glasgow giants. Coming on for the last half-hour of a league match against Motherwell, he had a memorable debut, scoring a brace to fire his side to victory. He then became a household name well beyond Scottish shores when he scored a dramatic late goal against Barcelona in a 2-1 win never to be forgotten at Celtic Park. At just 18 years of age, he had played the key role in one of the greatest upsets in Champions League history. Despite promising appearances, Watt was unable to become a first-team regular and the club decided to give him a chance to gain experience by loaning him out to Lierse last season.
Again, Watt made a remarkable debut. He needed just 92 seconds to score against Kortrijk. In total, Watt scored 8 times out of 17 appearances, 9 if you count the Belgian Cup, with 3 assists and Lierse always won when Watt was decisive. His performances didn’t go unnoticed in Belgium and especially not to those of Standard. The U21 international Scottish player has great potential and has a broad range of qualities that make him more complete that his contemporaries. Great technical qualities, powerful, able to shoot with both feet and score with the head. Does that remind you of anyone ? Yes, Tony Watt has the same set of attributes as Michy Batshuayi, which is undoubtedly why the reason why the Standard was interested in him before the leaving of his young wonderkid for Olympique de Marseille.
Watt’s qualities are undeniable, as is his strong character that caused him some problems with Stanley Menzo, coach of Lierse. Suddenly, the striker was away from the team during the admittedly pointless PO2 and simply had to wait a trip back at home. With new Celtic coach Ronny Deila, he wanted to make his way in the Celtic squad again. As he told BeNefoot last June : “I’ll need to speak to the new manager and see what he thinks. If he doesn’t like me and there are good options from Belgium then I would look at them […] But for me it’s Celtic first, that’s where my heart is and I don’t want to give up on my dreams too early.” Watt began the pre-season with Celtic but despite a real desire to do well, he wasn’t an integral part of Deila’s plans and so Standard came back knocking on the door.
An agreement was reached late on Sunday evening and Watt flew to Liège early the next morning to undergo a medical and sign his new contract with les Rouches. The Hoops were trying to find a replacement for Watt before selling him which is probably the reason the transfer didn’t happen earlier.
“This morning I talked to the coach. He was good with me, he wants me to give 100%. He wants to work with people like me because we have winning characters and I hope to be a winner here also.“ Watt told Standard TV.
That’s all we can we wish for him.
Next challenge for Standard is Panathinaïkos for Third qualifying round of Champions League. De Sart and Ono are still injured. Mpoku and Ciman are back in the squad. Mpoku is likely to begin on the bench while Ciman has been in training for a week since returning from the World Cup and may be deemed fit enough but otherwise Luzon will keep faith with the side that beat Charleroi 3-0 last Friday. Watt, who joined his new teammates a bit too late won’t take part in the first leg but crucially he is registered for the Champions League so he should come into consideration for the second leg in Greece. Nigerian striker Imoh Ezekiel plays his final game this evening before going off to play in Qatar. He will earn megabucks and will be given the opportunity to qualify for Qatar in the same way a number of athletes have in the past. The Greeks are the favourites to progress given the state of Standard’s squad but with their manager claiming that Anderlecht know how to win titles in contrast to Standard, Luzon only needs to put those words up on the dressing room wall to fire up les Rouches to at least remain in the tie come the second leg in Greece.