CHRIS SUTTON reckons Ange Postecoglou must get rid of three players whose Celtic “days are numbered”.
The former Hoops goal hero insists the trio of Vasilis Barkas, Albian Ajeti and Boli Bolingoli have to leave the club as the manager continues to trim his squad after bringing in three J-League stars – Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate – at the start of the month.
Coincidentally, the three who should make way during the streamlining cost ex-gaffer Neil Lennon £12.5million to bring to Glasgow – the same joint free reported to be required to tie down on-loan aces Filipe Jota, from Benfica, and Spurs’ central defender Cameron Carter-Vickers on permanent contracts.
Unconvincing keeper Barkas cost £4.5million when he arrived from AEK Athens in June 2020 and striker Albian Ajeti, who has scored a mere nine goals in a year and a half, was priced at £5million from West Ham a couple of weeks later.
GRIM-FACED…Vasilis Barkas after the 2-2 draw at Livingston a year ago.
Blundering Boli Bolingoli was signed for £3million from Rapid Vienna the previous summer and was originally earmarked to take the left-back role vacated by Kieran Tierney following his £25million exit to Arsenal.
Sutton is adamant it is time to call time on their stay at Celtic and, looking at the demanding and crucial title race that lies ahead, said: “Six points isn’t a huge gap, but if it goes to nine or even double figures then it’ll be a gap too far.
“The squad needs strengthened in terms of quality, but also streamlined because it’s bloated.
“It’s a situation that needs addressing and the dead wood – players on big wages – need to be moved on.
“It’s better to cut your losses because there will be deals to be had and a little bit of money can be recouped.
“That’ll free up cash and wages to get Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota tied down on permanent deals. Celtic should be doing all they can to make both loan stars their own.
OOPS…Albian Ajeti can’t believe a miss against Dundee United in the 1-1 home draw this season.
“It doesn’t take a genius to work out who needs to go – it’s glaring that for three players, in particular, their days are numbered.
“Vasilis Barkas, no matter how you look at it, has been money poorly spent. Albian Ajeti and Boli Bolingoli the same.
“I’ve been in the situation myself at Chelsea where you just feel things aren’t going to turn round. These players could go on to have decent careers elsewhere, but it’s not going to happen at Celtic.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Barkas is a young man who arrived with a big reputation, but he’s not the goalkeeper Celtic expected and now he’s number three.
“Ajeti had a good season at Basel, went to West Ham, but it’s just not happened for him here. He’s nicked the odd goal, but his all-round play is not what Celtic require.
“He’s slipping further and further down the pecking order and needs a change of scenery for his own good just like Barkas.
DOWN AND OUT…Boli Bolingoli sits it out during a European tie.
“Bolingoli, too. He’s another one who will be on a few quid. He’s only had opportunities when they are down to the bare bones and there’s nobody else. Move him on.
“In midfield, Ismaila Soro and James McCarthy are in danger of slipping further down the pecking order with Hatate and Ideguchi coming in and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Soro offloaded. McCarthy signing on a four-year deal was a signing which looked good on paper, but it’s time he started performing on the park.”
Sutton, now a top media pundit, reckoned: “As I said, Jota and Carter-Vickers are two big reasons why money needs to be freed up by offloading the dead wood.
“Jota is worth the £6.5million being mentioned to sign him permanently. He and Kyogo have been excellent this season and he seems to be enjoying life at Celtic Park.
HOPING AND PRAYING…Filipe Jota reflects on his goal against Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.
A BIG HAND…Cameron Carter-Vickers has impressed Chris Sutton – among others.
“I’m a huge fan of Carter-Vickers. The way this team plays leaves the centre-halves exposed and I think he has coped very well in one-v-one situations.
“He is quick, comfortable on the ball and fits the role really well.
“Six million quid? It’ll be a big miss if Celtic don’t sign him.”
The one-time England international striker added: “When it comes to recruitment, Ange’s record has been pretty good so far.
“He might not have got them all right, but when you go back to the Lee Congerton era and some of the players that came in then, there were a lot of signings that didn’t work.
“Postecoglou coming in late as he did has done well and has shown he should be trusted in the transfer market and this one in the middle of the season is really important.”