FORMER Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton rates Giorgos Giakoumakis higher than Kyogo Furuhashi.
The one-time England international frontman is an admirer of the two Hoops attackers who contributed 39 goals in all competitions in Ange Postecoglou’s debut campaign.
Kyogo arrived in a £4.6million switch from J-League outfit Vissel Kobe at the end of July and Giakoumakis joined the following month on a £2.5million deal from Dutch club VVV-Venlo.
The pacy Japanese raider hit 20 goals with the Greek one fewer, despite both players missing massive chunks of the season through injury.
UP IN THE AIR…Giorgos Giakoumakis produces some acrobatics before firing in an overhead-kick in the 5-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in August.
This time around, Kyogo has claimed 11 strikes with Giakoumakis three behind in the scoring stakes. The latter’s last goal came in the 1-1 Champions League stalemate against Shakhtar Donetsk at Parkhead on October 25. He has fired blanks in the five outings since that success against the Ukrainians.
However, he still gets the nod from Sutton as the main man at the champions.
The ex-Parkhead striker said: “Giorgos Giakoumakis is the best finisher at Celtic. On the face of it, the prospect of him leaving the club would appear a big blow. But the simple fact is fans have to trust that Ange Postecoglou will have all angles covered.
“The manager has proven already that he has a terrific eye in the transfer market and, if someone goes, the evidence suggests one better will arrive.
“It’s no secret that I am a fan of Giakoumakis. The Greek took a bit of time to settle at the club, but since he got his fitness at the beginning of this year, he has shown great attributes. Putting the ball in back of the net is, obviously, the most important.
“Giakoumakis has great movement in the box. He is strong in the air. Kyogo Furuhashi also has a wonderful knack of putting the ball in the net. But, when I compare the two of them, Giakoumakis edges it for me in the natural finishing stakes.
UP IN ARMS…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates one of his 11 Celtic goals this season.
“As well as that ability to find the right areas in the box, there is so much more to his game.
“Holding the ball up front and bringing others into play is a key part of a striker’s job for the team. Especially given the system that Postecoglou plays with two attacking players either side of the frontman, the quality to take it in or drag defenders into areas out of the central positions for team-mates like Jota and Liel Abada to fill and score is impressive.
“To put it simply, I think he gives Celtic a focal point to hit in games when they are under pressure. A physical presence they can find if needed. Basically, a different option to Kyogo who is more about playing off the shoulder and running in behind.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “The campaign resumes in a fortnight and it should not be forgotten that we are not even at the halfway stage of the Premiership title race yet.
“Sure, Celtic have a big lead and it is going to be awfully difficult for Rangers and their new manager Michael Beale to pull back the nine-point gap.
“But this is not a time for my old club to get weaker. I’m fully aware of the chat from Postecoglou about the way he is going to evolve the squad.
“When he said at the club’s AGM that fans should not get too close to their heroes because regular movement in and out of the door would be a natural progression for them if they want to improve and get better in the Champions League, that was a signal to many, myself included, that individuals would be moving on in January and replaced.
NET PROFITS…Giorgos Giakoumakis (above) turns away after netting his stoppage-time winner against St Johnstone in Perth while Kyogo Furuhashi (blew) and the ball are over the line in the victory at Kilmarnock.
“With that in mind, Celtic fans have to believe that Postecoglou is well down the track with a striker and has an upgrade in the pipeline if Giakoumakis is going to be exiting the club.
“Look, I’m not privy to the inner goings-on inside the dressing room or the boardroom. I don’t know what is happening with a new contract or anything like that or if something has changed in the background to make it so that the Greek is available for purchase.
“But I do know that Postecoglou is a smart individual and he’s not just going to let one of his main attacking weapons walk out of the door unless he has got an ace up his sleeve and a plan already in place and down the line.”
Sutton added: “Postecoglou doesn’t strike me as the type who would want anyone around the place who is not 100 per cent committed to the job.
“He’s said it often enough that, if a player is not happy at Celtic, he can go. The Australian doesn’t seem the type to suffer anyone not on his wavelength or on the same page as everyone else in the dressing room or the club.
“If it is the case that Giakoumakis is to leave Celtic next month, there is no question in my mind that he would be a big loss. But Postecoglou has filled gaps and found gems to sparkle in his squad from the moment he walked in the front door.
“Based purely on his track record in Glasgow, it’s hard to imagine this situation would be any different and he won’t have the solution in hand.”