CELTIC great John ‘Yogi’ Hughes is urging his old club to splash “serious cash” in the summer to quickly get back on track after this season’s title catastrophe.
The club’s seventh-highest scorer in history with 189 goals insists they will have to be prepared to pay big money to bring in a new and reliable striker.
Hughes opened up to author Alex Gordon in another CQN EXCLUSIVE as he looked forward to a crucial campaign for the Hoops.
The 77-year-old former club and country frontman said: “We all know Odsonne Edouard will be on his way in the summer, despite still having a year to run on his contract.
“Celtic must get top dollar for the Frenchman. I’ve seen figures in the £15million being mentioned for the player. Is someone having a laugh? That’s actually insulting to the club, the player and Scottish football, in general.
“The guy scored 28 goals last season and, although he is not enjoying the best of terms this time around, he has still claimed 22 strikes.
YOGI ON THE RAMPAGE…John Hughes races past grounded Rangers duo Ronnie McKinnon and Colin Jackson while Alex MacDonald watches. The hitman scored in Celtic’s 2-0 win in September 1970.
“Edouard has just turned 23 and he has a massive future ahead of him. That potential alone is worth more than a paltry £15million which is peanuts in today’s market when complete unknowns are shifting around for huge fees.
“So, Celtic must not be tempted to lower any prices for a player who, remember, cost a club record £9million when he joined from Paris Saint-Germain in June 2018. The French side will also have a sell-on clause in the contract, so it is absolutely vital that the Parkhead men get the right deal in place.
“Whatever they get for Edouard, they should be willing to pay for a replacement. Yes, I know money is tight, but I think Celtic must learn from past mistakes when selling big and buying small.
“They did that when Kenny Dalglish left for Liverpool for £440,000, which was a record transfer between British clubs in 1977.
“And how did Celtic spend that windfall? They paid Dundee United £60,000 for Tom McAdam who had been playing as a striker for the Tannadice club.
“Scoring goals on Tayside and scoring goals in Glasgow are two different propositions. No disrespect to clubs outwith Celtic, but I recall one forward who was brought to my old club who had been fairly prolific elsewhere.
ON THE RUN…£440,000 man Kenny Dalglish leaves Derek Johnstone in his slipstream.
“The goals dried up at Parkhead and the lads was really struggling. I asked him how he was finding life at Celtic. He was quite candid when he told me: ‘It’s a nightmare, Yogi. When I was at my last couple of clubs, I would beat a defender and be clean through on goal. I beat a defender here and there is another defender behind him. If you beat him, there’s another.’
“You won’t be surprised to learn he was moved on after a season and, as you might expect, started scoring goals again.
“The point I’m trying to make is that Celtic cannot expect to get a reasonable fee for Edouard – and I am talking upwards of £25million – and then pay peanuts and hope to fill a large hole in the frontline.
“Look, Kieran Tierney cost £25million in his shift to Arsenal and you don’t have to be overwhelmed by coaching certificates to comprehend a proven goalscorer is worth more to the team than a left-back, no matter how good he is.
HEAVENS ABOVE…Odsonne Edouard celebrates his strike against Aberdeen last month with Callum McGregor about to join in.
“Prolific hitmen are gold dust in this game. You are not going to win too many games if you don’t put the ball in the back of the opposition’s net.
“Similarly, it is imperative you have a goalkeeper you can trust, too. What’s the point of a bloke up front scoring a hat-trick every matchday when the guy between the sticks is flogging them, right, left and centre?
“So, Celtic will have to sort out both positions pronto in the summer with the Champions League qualifiers on top of us before we know it.”
Hughes, who left the Hoops at the age of 28 for Crystal Palace against his wishes, added: “I’ve already talked in CQN about Leigh Griffiths owing Celtic a debt after they offered him a four-year deal in 2018.
“He will have had a wake-up call in recent times and it will also hurt that Steve Clarke left him out of Scotland’s World Cup squad yesterday.
“The ball is at the player’s feet. He will be 31 in August and he will know he has to stand up and be counted. At some point he will run out of time to prove he really is a top marksman.
“So, Celtic will need a like-for-like replacement for Edouard while Griffiths must be geared to spark right from the off.
“And what about £5million Albian Ajeti and £3.5million Patryk Klimala? You have got to say they are not showing they have been money well spent.
“Putting their goal totals together this season doesn’t even get you to double figures – the Swiss attacker has netted six and the Pole has collected three. That’s not good enough.
“Some folk may argue they have not had enough game time. Whose fault is that? If these guys had been producing, you can be sure they would have been in the team.
“Edouard’s form in the first half of the campaign was disappointing to say the least and that was the time for someone to stake their claim.
“We’re still waiting.
“The warning signs are flashing loud and clear – Celtic MUST spend big or suffer the consequences.”
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss another Big Yogi EXCLUSIVE – only in your champion CQN.