CHARLIE NICHOLAS insists Giorgos Giakoumakis can shoot to the top of the Premiership scoring charts – despite the slow start to his career at Celtic.
The Greek hitman thumped in a hat-trick in the Hoops’ 3-2 win over Dundee at Parkhead on Sunday to hoist his tally to seven, including a double in the Scottish Cup, since his £2.5million arrival from the Eredivisie in which completed the season as the league’s main marksman with 26 goals.
It’s a remarkable haul for the 27-year-old forward considering his club, VVV-Venlo, were relegated from the Dutch top flight.
THE WINNER…Giorgos Giakoumakis hits the ground as he watches his near post header ricochet high into the Dundee net.
Giakoumakis, who has proved he is now fully recovered from a knee problem that hindered his progress in the first half of the campaign, has allowed his strike rivals a head start.
But Nicholas has been impressed by the all-action attacker’s form in front of goal and the one-time Hoops fans’ favourite knows a thing or two about putting the ball in the back of the opposition’s net following his two stints at Parkhead.
The stylish ex-Scotland international forward, now 60, claimed 85 goals from 187 league appearances and 125 overall in 249 outings for his boyhood favourites.
Nicholas said: “Giorgos Giakoumakis is hitting form and the Celtic striker should have the Premiership’s top goalscorer award in his sights.
“Giakoumakis is six behind joint leaders Alfredo Morelos and Regan Charles-Cook, who are on 11 goals, but the Greek can overtake both if he continues to play with the same confidence he did last weekend.
“He got a good hat-trick against Dundee and you can see he also tries to bring his team-mates into play with his link-up work.
THE WINNER…Giorgos Giakoumakis is just capital against Hearts at Tynecastle last month as he claims the points-clincher.
“Celtic’s wide men are the key. When they get on the ball that is when Giakoumakis comes to life.
“Despite his stature and physical presence he doesn’t play like a typical big target man. He’s not the new John Hartson.
“Giakoumakis looks for goals by putting his body on the line and going in where it hurts, often nipping in ahead of defenders at the front post, which is something of a dying art.”
Nicholas, speaking to the Daily Express, added: “I like a lot of what he does. It will be interesting to see if Postecoglou puts Kyogo Furuhashi straight back into the starting line-up when the Japanese striker is fit.
“My only concern about Giakoumakis is that he does take some heavy knocks and picks up injuries.
“The win over Dundee coupled with Rangers’ draw at Tannadice means Celtic ended the weekend with a three-point cushion at the top of the table, not to mention a superior goal difference over their rivals.
“I would put the title race at 55/45 in favour of Postecoglou’s side.”