FORMER Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton has highlighted the dilemma facing Brendan Rodgers in this month’s transfer market.

The one-time England international frontman was Martin O’Neill’s first signing for the club in the summer of 2000 when he arrived in a £6million switch from Chelsea.

The incoming Hoops boss urgently required firepower with Mark Viduka already heading out of Parkhead with Leeds United prepared to pay the exact same amount as Celtic agreed to splash on his replacement.

Sutton reckons another hitman is a priority for the team as they pursue their twelfth title in 13 years and the 54th in their history.

The media pundit said: “Kyogo Furuhashi is the top striker at Celtic and has proved his worth. The Japanese is first pick and rightly so.

“Brendan Rodgers keeps saying he wants quality and adding a player as capable as Kyogo in the striking department seems the ideal scenario.

MATCHWINNER…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his brilliant points-clincher in the derby last month along with Paulo Bernardo and Luis Palma.

“We know all of this. We’ve been hearing it for weeks. But here’s the thing. Unless you are signing someone to take Kyogo’s place in the starting side, how are you going to convince a proven player with quality to come to your club to sit on the bench and play second fiddle?

“More pertinently, how much are you going to have to pay to get a guy who dislodges Kyogo?

“This is a dilemma facing Celtic right now. The fans are screaming for signings. The manager and his captain Callum McGregor are screaming for signings. But I can imagine it’s a tricky sell. Or buy, if you prefer.”

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “There are three types available at this stage of the season. The first are the ones who are playing out of their skin. Everyone wants them and you better be shelling out the top dollar if you want them.

“The second lot are the guys who aren’t getting games and want out to play. The first question you ask is with them is: Why aren’t you playing? Why is your club letting you go? Aren’t you that good?

“Sure there are exceptions, but, mainly, the ones hunting escape routes are doing it because they aren’t good enough to get into their own team. I give you Gustaf Lagerbielke, Marco Tillo, Yuki Kobayashi, et al.

“The third batch are the kids getting loaned out. Now you can get good ones. There are plum examples in recent Januarys for Celtic. Let’s be honest, Reo Hatate was, at the time, a near project.

ON THE BALL…Reo Hatate hit the ground running after his Celtic move.

“He didn’t have a lot of game-time in his career, he wasn’t really known to fans here and available on a tiny fee in comparison to his talent because no-one else was looking where Ange Postecoglou was looking.

“Postecoglou was ahead of the game. Hatate was, and is, brilliant. Matt O’Riley. No-one was really looking at him either performing for MK Dons. Rodgers now needs to be ahead of the game in the same way and find this year’s versions of Hatate and O’Riley and not, with respect, versions of Jeremy Toljan or Oli Burke.”

The former Hoops fans’ favourite added: “Striker is the big one. I don’t actually think Oh Hyeon-gyu is too bad and, in many ways he’s ideal in the fact he’s young and accepts that playing second fiddle to Kyogo is his role in the squad.

“That’s fine with an Oh. But go up the grades to the proven hitman of genuine quality and how do you convince one to spend most of his life on the bench?

“You look at Giorgos Giakoumakis. No matter how many goals he scored at Celtic, he wasn’t shifting Kyogo out of the side unless the Japanese was either injured or being rested. Champions League? Cup Finals? Old Firm games? Kyogo started. End of.

“It’s the job of Rodgers, Mark Lawwell and the recruitment team to find the answer. Unless you shell out big money to get someone to take Kyogo’s place, it becomes a tricky balancing act.

THE LAST HURRAH…Giorgos Giakoumakis nets Celtic’s second goal in the League Cup semi-final win over Kilmarnock in January last year – his final strike for the Hoops.

“And Celtic have to walk the wire carefully because a title’s at stake and there’s no safety net for second in Glasgow.”

The holders return to action a week tomorrow when they face Highland outfit Buckie Thistle at Parkhead in the intriguing Scottish Cup fourth round encounter at Parkhead.

The Premiership returns when Ross County are the visitors a fortnight today.

There could be some interesting comings and goings at the Hoops before that game.


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