THE CELTIC powerbrokers must be prepared to gamble and back Brendan Rodgers in this summer’s transfer market.

The rewards could be immense with the champions blowing away Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side while making a dent in Europe.

That’s the no-nonsense verdict of former Hoops goal hero Chris Sutton who can envisage his old club storming to their 55th title while leaving all challengers in their slipstream.

The one-time England international insists the Parkhead bosses were slow out of the blocks this time last year and paid a heavy price when they relinquished their grip on the League Cup in the third game of the campaign in the dismal 1-0 loss to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

CROWNING GLORY…beaming Brendan Rodgers holds aloft Celtic’s 54th title trophy.

He believes the club, with millions of pounds in the bank, should take a risk or two to help the team chief strengthen his squad for the rigours that lie ahead.

Sutton said: “If Celtic get it right this summer having been pushed for a spell by the Ibrox club last season, Brendan has a big chance to create another chasm.

“Stage two of Rodgers’ second spell is fully underway with the team returned for pre-season training and the manager in a far-better place than 12 months ago.

“It couldn’t have been easy for him last summer. He knew some people didn’t want him back, but he promised to return to the stadium in May with the title trophy and duly delivered it along with a Scottish Cup.

“He backed his words up and, having conjured that double, there’s no need for him to say anything this summer. European progression was also on his agenda and, although I’m not sure there were as many advances made in the Champions League as some people would have you believe, it remains a real motivation.

“If Rodgers and Celtic make the right moves over the next couple of months, they have a real chance to both blow Rangers away and also make that elusive mark again when facing the continent’s elite.”

The former hitman, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Winning that title last season has whacked another £40million into the Parkhead coffers and, at the same time, kept it out of the Ibrox piggy bank.

MAKE MINE A DOUBLE…Brendan Rodgers has a firm grasp of the Scottish Cup.

“That has a serious effect on what the respective clubs can do in this transfer market and gives Celtic a huge chance to stride further ahead. Philippe Clement needs to rebuild his squad and he’s not being helped by the fact that his bosses don’t seem so clever when it comes to rebuilding parts of the stadium.

“Rangers fans aren’t interested in shipping containers and absent steel. Not being able to see their team play games at Ibrox is a ridiculous state of affairs.

“Ibrox has been a powerful ally in Europe in recent seasons. Not having it for qualifiers and failing to make the competition’s new-look league phase could easily see another £40million jackpot disappear.

“Celtic are already in there. Rodgers can budget for it and he has to be given the chance to get some of the ones on his wishlist, even if it means pushing the boat out.”

Sutton added: “Rodgers knows he needs to add quality to his ranks and, with the expanded competition and more section games meaning more revenue again, the board should be able to go a bit further in the market.

“I’m not stupid. I realise there is a limit to what Celtic can do. But they can take a risk or two with the money in the bank.

RECORD SIGNING…Maik Nawrocki was Celtic’s most expensive summer buy at £4.3million when he arrived from Legia Warsaw in July 2023.

“Rodgers has earned that surely with his work. Getting things done quickly, especially for the top targets, is no easy task and I understand that you need to be patient in some deals.

“But I maintain that Celtic didn’t do enough last summer and went too late in that regard.

“Players were still bedding into the club when they played their first-group game in Rotterdam and that was simply not good enough. It’s hard enough to compete without tying your own hands behind your back.

“Celtic should always be ready when it comes to recruitment and targets and they, where they can, now have to strike sharply and with conviction if the right opportunities arise.

“If they make those right transfer moves, that cherished European impact could be realistic and, domestically, they can leave Rangers trailing way behind.

“Celtic joined their city foes on the overall trophy mark [118] when beating them in the Scottish Cup Final and, having heard all the noise from Ibrox about getting title 55 during Steven Gerrard’s reign, Rodgers can lead his club to title No.55 in the season ahead.

“He has the opportunity to take Celtic beyond their great rivals in the overall silverware count. And also sail them far away into the distance.”

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