HOOPS legend John Hughes has urged Celtic to bust the bank to sign Oliver Burke.
Big Yogi has been impressed by the 21-year-old attacker since he arrived on loan from West Brom in January.
And Hughes, the seventh-highest goalscorer in the club’s history with 189 strikes, insists the champions should top the £10million record fee they splashed on Odsonne Edouard last summer to keep Burke at Parkhead.
He told CQN: “Oliver Burke has something every defender fears – and that is pace. The big lad is greased lightning as he gets across that pitch.
“I was fortunate enough to have been blessed with speed during my playing days.
“Actually, I had been an athlete at school and one of my strengths was my running power.
“I can see that in Oliver. And, like me, he can play on the wing or through the middle. Big Jock Stein hammered it into me when I was playing wide to run the defenders. ‘Just knock it behind them and go for it,’ said our gaffer. ‘You’ll get the benefit in the last half-hour.’
“And, of course, he was right. Neil Lennon will have his own thoughts about Burke, but you can be sure he will be playing to his strengths.
“You can see the youngster growing in stature in every passing game. He made his debut in the Scottish Cup-tie against Airdrie and put in a good shift without hitting the headlines.
“A few days later, he scored his first goal in the Premiership match against St Mirren and he netted another after the interval. You could see the confidence coming back into his game.
“His progress since the Cup-tie until now has been night and day. I would bust the bank to keep him at the club.
HAPPY BHOY…Oliver Burke celebrates his goal against Hibs.
“And there is little doubt he is enjoying playing for Celtic. He was being constantly snubbed by West Brom in the Championship and not getting a sniff of a first team outing.
“I have no idea why that should be the case because the lad has talent and power and he will collect a goal or two along the way.
“If the gaffer picks him against Aberdeen today, you just know he will relish playing in front of a sell-out 60,000 crowd at Parkhead.
“I think he is an extra weapon for Celtic at a crucial stage of the campaign with the treble treble within touching distance.
“Obviously, there will be a lot of comings and goings at the club in the summer and they have still to sort out the manager’s position.
“On a personal note, I would be delighted if they gave the job to Lennon on a permanent basis. He has already proved he is a real Celtic man.
“He was quick to take on the challenge last week just 24 hours before a game against Hearts at Tynecastle.
“That was a ground where Brendan Rodgers had seen the team lose earlier in the campaign, but Neil managed to guide them to a 2-1 win and three very important points.
“And he showed a lot of courage, too, against Hibs at Easter Road in last Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final.
“He has already said he will not be making too many changes, but he tweaked it a little against his old club when he brought James Forrest in from the wing.
“Lennon saw the benefit of the player operating behind Edouard and it paid off when Forrest scored the opening goal.
“I think he has got the team playing a bit quicker in the final third and dividends in terms of trophies and the manager’s position could be his reward.
“I would be more than satisfied if both Neil Lennon AND Oliver Burke were at Celtic next season.”
CHEERS…John Hughes and co-author Alex Gordon with the Celtic legend’s autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare’.
John Hughes will be signing copies of his autobiography, ‘Yogi Bare: The Life and Times of a Celtic Legend’, at The Penalty Spot, Sword Street, Dennistoun, between midday and 2pm today before the three o’clock kick-off.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Aberdeen this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.