BRENDAN RODGERS took his pre-season signing spree to five when he brought in centre-back Maik Nawrocki from Legia Warsaw during the week.

The Polish defender joined Norwegian midfielder Odin Thiago, Australian winger Marco Tilio and South Korean duo anchorman Kwon Hyeon-kyu and flanker Yang Hyun-jun as the second time-around boss strengthens his squad for a crucial campaign.

Others are certain to follow before the transfer window closes at midnight on August 31.

However, Chris Sutton reckons one of the key players is already in place as Rodgers prepares for the forthcoming crusade as the Parkhead club defend their three domestic trophies after last season’s history-making silverware clean sweep.

THE FINAL SAY…Liel Abada tucks No.2 into the Caley Thistle net on Celtic’s way to Scottish Cup success last month.

The former Hoops goal hero insists a player who cost Ange Postecoglou £3.5million in July 2021 is ready to stand up and be counted again.

Sutton said: “Brendan Rodgers revealing Liel Abada wants to stay is a big one.

“It was slightly strange last season how he ended up spending a lot of time on the bench – especially as he matched his numbers from his first season with about half the minute on the pitch.

“He could be a big player under Rodgers.”

Abada brought down the curtain on the treble winners’ season of domestic domination when he came on as a substitute for Daizen Maeda at the start of the second-half of the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden on June 3.

SMILES BETTER…Liel Abada holds aloft the newly-won Scottish Cup.

The champions had toiled to spark in the opening 45 minutes and only made the breakthrough seven minutes from the break when Kyogo Furuhashi swept in his 34th strike of another prolific term.

Abada claimed the second and set up the third for Filipe Jota as the team celebrated a 3-1 triumph over the gallant Highlanders.

Sutton also rated the potential of Rodgers’ captures and said: “Maik Nawrocki looks a solid signing, but I’m not sure he will oust Carl Starfelt as the main partner to Cameron Carter-Vickers.

“But he will compete for the role and will also give Rodgers the versatility if he wants to go to a three at the back, especially in Europe. There are other unknowns at Celtic, too, though.

“You’d think Kwon Hyeuk-kyu is one for the future, but is Yang Hyun-jun for now?

“We just don’t know. We’ve seen a lot of impressive YouTube clips, but you could compile a highlights reel of my time at Chelsea that would look impressive.

“You’ve got to say Celtic have been really shrewd in the Asian market and they guys who have arrived have done phenomenally well. It could be Yang does something similar and he is the attacking player to replace Jota.

“Or maybe it will be Marco Tilio. He’s an Australian international and won’t be at Celtic to be playing with the B team. From what I’ve been told, he’s in the Patrick Roberts mould and he might have a big part to play this season once he’s fully fit.”

A MAN ALONE…Brendan Rodgers deep in thought at Lennoxtown. Image courtesy Celtic TV.

Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I get the demand from fans for a marquee signing, but it was interesting seeing Rodgers’s comments about not to expect £10-15million arrivals as he’s sticking to the model.

“Listen, we sometimes don’t know a marquee signing until long after they have arrived.

“Carter-Vickers and Jota were not marquee signings when they pitched up on loan – but they became ones when they turned those moves into permanent deals. It’s all very well sticking to the model, but we keep being told the club is financially well off and the talk is improvement in Europe.

“I still think they need to add a couple if they are going to do that and I’d be surprised if Rodgers didn’t feel the same. We know he’s a coach and a developer and we know he’ll be keen to work with this young squad.

“But it’s also about improving the levels and I wouldn’t bet against some big moves in the coming weeks.”

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