CHRIS SUTTON has urged Brendan Rodgers “to get a move on” in bringing in top signings to Celtic.
The former Hoops hero insists the returning manager urgently requires new faces to provide the “wow factor” at the champions as they prepare for life after Filipe Jota.
Sutton emphasises the Portuguese maverick was a pivotal figure in his two years during Ange Postecoglou, but, of course, the mesmerising wide Bhoy, a massive favourite with the champions’ fans, has been lured to Saudi Arabia in a mindboggling £10million tax free annual contract at Al-Ittihad.
PRIZE GUY…Filipe Jota celebrates in front of silent Ibrox fans after scoring the Scottish Cup semi-final winner at Hampden in April on Celtic’s way to a world record eighth treble.
The one-time England international attack-leader believes Rodgers will have to speed up his attempts to restructure the squad after Jota’s exit and the premature retiral of Australia World Cup midfielder Aaron Mooy.
Sutton said: “The new league season is three weeks away and there are seven weeks left in the transfer window. But I can’t help but feel Celtic need to get a shift on and starting making serious signings now.
“There’s no real need for Brendan Rodgers to panic and I have no doubt there will be plenty of work going on in the background, even if it does seem quiet. However, there is no escaping the fact that as things stand, Celtic are weaker than they were at the end of last season.
“Losing Jota is the big one. We know the reasons and the money that came in, but there’s no denying he will be a huge loss – and he’ll be extremely difficult to replace.
“Former manager Ange Postecoglou was a major fan of wingers, but Jota brought something a bit different. He had a wide-ranging skill set, but the main thing with him was the fact he was a game-changer.
CLAP HAPPY…Brendan Rodgers watches his players at training.
“Jota was a player for the big occasion and if you look back at the last two seasons, in the major moments, he was front and centre. He was the difference in games against Rangers, Cup semi-finals and Finals.
“It’s not easy to find that kind of player. One who can come in straight away and be such a massive influence. It will be nigh impossible to get a like for like replacement – but that’s the challenge for Rodgers.”
Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I’m not sure the injuries to Cameron Carter-Vickers and Alistair Johnston will change too much of Rodgers’ thinking.
“He will have known he was short of cover at centre-half, but it sounds like Carter-Vickers will be back sooner rather than later.
“He might need to look at right-back in the short term, but he does have Tony Ralston, who did well under Postecoglou. It’s not ideal Mikey Johnston getting injured again or Marco Tilio arriving with an issue.
“But Rodgers would not have been banking on those two being immediate starters, anyway. Tilio has been signed as one for the future who might do a turn at some stage this season. Johnston would have been hoping for another chance, but the lad can’t seem to catch a break.
“These are side issues for now. It’s the quest for exciting arrivals that is front and centre. It’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds.
“Managers are judged on their recruitment. I’d imagine Rodgers will have a central role this time, but it’s a difficult market Celtic are in.
NEW WIZARD OF OZ…Marco Tilio has been recruited by Brendan Rodgers.
“The model will remain the same. They will want to buy players with potential, develop them and eventually sell them for a big profit – and then bring in even better players to do the same.”
Top media pundit Sutton added: “Postecoglou talked about it last season. You buy a £2million player and turn him into a £10million player. Then you get a £5million one and get him to be worth £20million.
“That’s where Rodgers is right now. He needs to add quality that’s at a higher level of the ones who are there now if he wants to make more of an impact in the Champions League.
“It’s tricky, because the players they will be chasing will be wanted by other clubs, as well. That might call for some patience – but there’s no such thing as patience in football.
“I’d be stunned if Celtic didn’t have a couple of marquee signings on board for the start of the season. But they do need to get a move on.”