CELTIC legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes, the club’s seventh-highest scorer with 189 goals, watched his old team overcome Real Betis 3-2 in a thrilling Europa League Group G finale at Parkhead last night.

The former fans’ favourite, who played in five of the games that led to the Hoops conquering Europe in Lisbon on the unforgettable evening of May 25 1967, admitted he was impressed by some of Ange Postecoglou’s back-up squad.

However, Yogi, now 78, has a warning for Parkhead bosses ahead of the January transfer window: “Make sure the manager has the money to spend on quality recruits.”

TOUCHLINE TORMENT…Ange Postecoglou watches Celtic miss a chance against Real Betis.

In another CQN EXCLUSIVE, Hughes expressed concerns if the Greek-Australian is hindered in his efforts to strengthen a player squad that is creaking at the joints.

In a typically forthright interview with Celtic author Alex Gordon, Big Yogi said: “Ange has been linked with three top players from Japan – striker Daizen Maeda, defender Reo Hatate and midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi – and I hope he gets all three.

“I admit I don’t know anything about the calibre of the trio, but I would most certainly back our manager’s judgement if you use Kyogo Furuhashi as an example.

“Who was aware of this guy’s talents in our part of the world before his arrival? But Ange had seen him perform in the J-League during his stint as manager of Yokohama F Marinos and he was convinced he could crack it in the UK. He wasn’t wrong, was he?

MONEY WELL SPENT…Kyogo Furuhashi is an absolute bargain at £4.6million, according to Celtic legend John ‘Yogi’ Hughes.

“Kyogo has literally hit the ground running since his arrival in late July. He netted against FK Jablonec in the Czech Republic in his first start and followed that up with a hat-trick against Dundee on his Parkhead debut.

“That’s what I call a mightily convincing first impression. So, if Maeda, Hatate and Ideguchi are of similar quality, let’s get them in – NOW!

“Ange has been saying he wants the targeted players in as soon as possible to help them integrate with their new team-mates. That makes sense.

“So, it really is a case of showing Big Ange the money. Let’s get the deals done, the work permits put in place and welcome these guys to Parkhead for the second part of a crucial campaign. And if there are other players who have caught the boss’ eye, let’s not be slow in adding them to the revamp.

“Last season was a complete write-off. No-one could have envisaged Celtic failing so spectacularly in every competition. We went into the new term with hopes of clinching a historic tenth successive title, but, instead, we limped in 25 points off the pace.

“That is inexplicable and, of course, went a long way to Neil Lennon exiting the club in February. A few reputations were dynamited at the same time.”

WING AND A SLAYER…Filipe Jota is rated at £6.5million by Benfica.

Hughes, who won 15 major honours at the Hoops after making his first team breakthrough at the age of 17, added: “I am not one to dwell on failure. It was difficult to accept the team’s inability to win any silverware for the first time in 11 years, but it is all about this season and what we can achieve with a new manager in charge and 12 recruits arriving in the summer – and more to come next month.

“Money has been spent and, if the reported figures are correct, Kyogo cost £4.6million – an absolute bargain, it must be said – Carl Starfelt was £4.2m, Liel Abada £3.5m, Josip Juranovic £2.5m, Giorgos Giakoumakis £2.5m, Joe Hart £1m and Liam Scales £500,000.

“James McCarthy was at the end of his contract, Osaze Urhoghide and Liam Shaw arrived after their deals expired at Sheffield Wednesday and would have cost a joint development fee of something in the region of £500,000 while Filipe Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers agreed season-long loan switches.

SAFE HANDS…Joe Hart salutes the fans at the end of another impressive performance.

“By my reckoning, that should come to around £20million with signing-on fees and other add-ons. That’s a lot of money, all things considered.

“Remember, though, what Celtic raked in the sales of Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie to English clubs in the summer. That must have been worth over £30million and, of course, there was Jeremie Frimpong’s £11.8million fee when he departed for Bayer Leverkusen in January.

“So, there should be money in the Parkhead transfer kitty for Postecoglou to spend wisely.

“It’s clear we need at least one more striker. It’s not worth thinking about if Kyogo, Giakoumakis and Albian Ajeti are all crocked at the same time.

“Big Ange knows all about the qualities of Maeda, a player he bought for the Yokohama club in February, and you have to hope there are no snags in any proposed move.

READ ALL ABOUT IT…John Hughes, pictured with his autobiography, co-authored by Alex Gordon, will meet the Celtic fans in Greenock tomorrow afternoon.

“The manager will have a better idea than anyone else the areas that need strengthening and I have the notion he is the sort of strong-willed individual who can stress the importance of bringing in the calibre of talent Celtic require to take them forward.

“This is not a job for a sticking plaster. Full-blown surgery is required to turn this corner.

“I repeat: Show Ange the money!”

The Lisbon Lion will be at the Greenock Celtic Supporters’ Club between noon and 4pm tomorrow to meet the fans, sign books, shirts and other Hoops memorabilia. And talk about all things Celtic.



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