Every box next Celtic keeper MUST tick as Brendan Rodgers insider demands 'entire package' from next No.1

Few people understand better what Brendan Rodgers wants in a keeper than Dorus de Vries.

After all, the Dutchman spent a year with him at Swansea City just over a decade ago. And when Rodgers arrived at Celtic in 2016 for his first spell as gaffer, de Vries was his prime target to be Hoops’ No.1 That signing was an early sign from the manager of how he wanted his new-look side to play. Unfortunately for the veteran stopper, injuries hampered him at Parkhead. As well as the form of Craig Gordon, of course, who changed his own game to become Rodgers’ first-choice keeper.

But from the moment de Vries turned up at Celtic, every other goalie since has been ordered to play out from the back. Rodgers demanded it, as did Ange Postecoglou after him. So this summer, as Rodgers tries to find a replacement for Joe Hart, there will be a very specific criteria. Ultimately, Rodgers will want a goalkeeper who ticks every box for Celtic. But de Vries knows what the non-negotiables will be. And he’s convinced the meticulous Hoops boss won’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to snaring a new goalie.

In an exclusive interview with Record Sport, De Vries – who spent three years in Glasgow – said: “Most people at Celtic love Joe for what he’s done at the club in the last few years. He’s going to leave a big space to fill but Brendan is always well prepared – he thinks two steps ahead of everyone else.

“He’ll have been looking at keepers with the profile he likes. He’ll want someone composed on the ball, who can build up play from the back, and who has a good aerial presence.

“Listen, he’ll be looking for the whole package. And a club like Celtic will always be able to attract a goalkeeper of really good stature. Everyone now wants a keeper who can play with the ball at his feet. But it’s about more than that. You still need a goalkeeper who can keep it out of the net.

“He has to be able to protect his goal by making good saves and being there in the right moments. He must have fantastic movement and reflexes and good decision-making. If the team plays high up the pitch, which Celtic do, you also need someone who can sit behind the backline and read the game properly. In the modern game, that’s what every team are looking for.

“Celtic are a massive club and I’m certain they can get a goalie who is comfortable in all of those areas. Brendan will have been working towards filling the gap left by Joe for a while.

“I’m sure they’ll have a couple of targets in mind and, together with Steve Woods, they’ll get the right type of goalkeeper. In terms of what Brendan wants, it’s the entire package.”

Rodgers knew that getting a goalkeeper who was adept with the ball at his feet was vital to Celtic’s future back in 2016. That’s why he went for de Vries, who was brought in from Nottingham Forest after previous stints at Dunfermline, Swansea, Wolves and in his native Holland.

Despite his experience, he’d never sampled anything like Celtic before. The 43-year-old, who also retired after leaving Parkhead, believes it takes a special type of person to be a Hoops keeper.

That’s why he knows Rodgers will be determined to get it right. He said: “A goalkeeper at Celtic has to be a big character and personality. You’ve seen it in the past with the likes of Artur Boruc and Gordon. You need to have that little bit extra at Celtic and Joe has had that in the last couple of years.

“The next goalkeeper who comes in has big boots to fill – but I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to handle it. Brendan will know he has to get this signing right because the position is so crucial. When things aren’t going well in a game, you need someone to stand up and pull you through.

“At the same time, when you’re on top, you need someone composed enough to play from the back and help you to play attractive football. At a club like Celtic that’s really important, so Brendan will want the right guy.

“He implemented a style when he was first at Celtic, which took some time to bed in. When I first got there, it also took the fans some time to adjust to a new way of playing.

“Playing from the back is risky. It can create a bit of anxiety, especially when the team are still adapting. Brendan did it and the fans bought into it. They were patient and have seen the benefits since then. Gradually our team became dominant and started to flow and we won trophies.”

De Vries isn’t involved in football now and spends most of his time with family, watching his kids play basketball and judo. He enjoyed a successful career in the UK and Holland and has no regrets. But if there’s one thing that does gnaw at him slightly it’s that he didn’t get to play for Celtic when he was younger.

He said: “It was a strange time for me at Celtic. Before I arrived I ruptured ankle ligaments in my last game for Nottingham Forest. So I had that problem from the start. I always thought it would have been nice to play for Celtic when I was a little younger.

“Towards the end of my career, the physical side was difficult for me. I was struggling with my back and ankle. So I wasn’t up to the standard I was used to, when I compare it to my days at Swansea or Forest. Brendan wanted a keeper to compete with Craig at Celtic.

“He adapted by learning to play from the back. That helped him develop and he went on to become a fantastic keeper – he still is. Unfortunately for me, injuries made it difficult. I just wish I’d got to play for Celtic in my prime.”