PATRYK KLIMALA is at the crossroads of his Celtic career after claiming a meagre three goals since his £3.5million arrival 15 months ago.
The Polish Under-21 international striker was an anonymous figure when he arrived from top-flight Jagiellona Bialystok – and he is still virtually unknown today.
Former Hoops goal hero Jacki Dziekanowski gave his fellow-countryman the big build-up as he assured the Parkhead faithful they were in for a treat.
Klimala made his debut in the 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Clyde at Broadwood in February last year, but fired blanks while goals from Olivier Ntcham, celebrating his 24th birthday, skipper Scott Brown and substitute Vakoun Issouf Bayo eased the holders towards the next round on their way to the eventual quadruple treble success at Hampden against Hearts in December last year.
The 22-year-old made a solitary substitute appearance in the Premiership before the coronavirus pandemic forced the world into lockdown and the champions completed their truncated season with a 5-0 victory over St Mirren at Parkhead on March 7 before claiming their ninth successive title.
SHOVE OFF…Patryk Klimala in action against St Mirren’s Conor McCarthy in Celtic’s 2-1 win in Paisley this season.
Klimala has made just five starts during the current wretched campaign although he has also been given the nod to come off the subs’ bench on 22 occasions. He has struck three times ”and his future at the club is on a knife edge as the they await news of Neil Lennon’s replacement.
Dziekanowski, 58, hopes the attack-leader will be given the opportunity to show the sort of form that persuaded the Hoops to sign him in the first place.
The ex-fans’ favourite said: “There will be a lot of changes at Celtic this summer with a new manager coming in.
“He will have his own ideas and I would think he’d want to bring in new players to lift the team.
“But it could be a fresh start for Patryk. It has been difficult for him at Celtic so far, but this could be an opportunity for him to show what he can do.
“This is a big summer for Patryk and his Celtic career. It could be make or break for him.”
Dziekanowski, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “I expect Odsonne Edouard to be sold for big money at the end of the season, so the door could be open for Patryk.
“No doubt Celtic will be thinking about buying another striker, but he should see this as a chance for him to save the club some money by becoming the main forward.
“I feel for him as it’s been a difficult spell for him. He would have wanted to have played more games than he has done so far.
“Edouard has been the first choice striker and he’s had to be patient. But you also have to take in account the circumstances. He arrived in the January and football stopped just a few weeks later.
“It’s not easy when you move to a new country, but it’s especially hard right now when the country is in lockdown and you cannot be meeting people in cafes or restaurants.
THREE CHEERS…Patryk Klimala joins in the celebrations along with Scott Brown after James Forrest had scored the winner against St Mirren.
“It was also such a big season for Celtic. He’s a young player and there maybe were not the same opportunities to try things when there was so much at stake. You need to be mentally strong, though.”
The former flamboyant frontman, signed by club legend Billy McNeill from Legia Warsaw in the summer of 1989, added: “I feel sorry for him as he’s not had the feeling you get of playing in front of the Celtic supporters.
“When I was at the club we were not doing so well, but the warmth I got from the fans was something I’ll never forget.
“The empty stadiums are not the same and I’m sure he will be inspired by the atmosphere when it comes back.
“Patryk is only 22 and he will improve. It is up to him to have the desire to be a Celtic player. He has to ask himself: ‘Am I happy being on the edges? Or maybe going out of loan?
“Or am I going to fight and show the new management team I can be a big player at this club?
“Patryk has the ability, but only he has the answer.”
Klimala is under contract at the Hoops until June 2024 and he knows time is running out to show he has the qualities to become a key player in a crucial upcoming campaign.