“WHO is Celtic’s main striker?”
The question is posed by former Celtic goal hero Chris Sutton as he looks at the frontline options open to boss Ange Postecoglou.
Just over a year ago in the pre-season friendly against West Ham at Parkhead, the recently-appointed Hoops gaffer played Odsonne Edouard in the first-half and Leigh Griffiths after the interval.
Davie Moyes’ team’s defence wasn’t exactly tested as they eased to a 6-2 win against a line-up that had been cobbled together by a manager who had flown in from Japan via London just a month beforehand.
Edouard left in an £18.5million move for Crystal Palace before the transfer deadline and Griffiths never kicked a ball again for the club as he headed on loan to Dundee and completed a miserable personal campaign at third-tier Falkirk.
Changed days now for the Greek-Australian who has the choice between two frontmen who shared 37 goals in their debut campaigns in the east end of Glasgow.
Sutton posed the query: “Who is Celtic’s main striker? Not so long ago it would be an easy answer.
“It would be Kyogo all day long. He is the best striker at the club, after all. But I don’t think that means he’s a nailed-on starter every single week.
“Giorgos Giakoumakis has fired himself right in to the equation. So much so, I actually believe the pair of them might have to share the role this season. Both of them were on target again in midweek and probably for the first time, Postecoglou has each of them fit at the same time.
“You look at last season, Kyogo was sensational in the first half of the campaign while Giakoumakis arrived late then got injured. Then when Kyogo was out, Giakoumakis was available and seized his chance in superb style.
“Both players contributed hugely to Celtic’s title success and while they were around at the same time at the tail-end of term, it’s only now you can say they are really fit and firing together.
“It’s an outstanding conundrum for Postecoglou and it will allow him to be flexible with his line-ups and the way Celtic play. It will be who is best suited to each game on a weekly basis. He can keep rivals guessing because the two of them are so different.”
One-time England international Chris Sutton, speaking to the Daily Record, continued: “Kyogo is all about pace and movement, playing on the shoulder and spinning in behind. Giakoumakis can throw his weight around, hold the ball up, get in to the box and finish.
“How do you prepare for that if both are available for selection? You work all week on dealing with Kyogo, then Giakoumakis appears to bully defenders. Or vice versa.
“You go with a strong centre-back partnership to deal with the physical threat – and you end up chasing shadows with Kyogo buzzing around.”
Sutton added: “Celtic don’t have one main striker now – they’ve got two. Daizen Maeda is there, as well. But you have to say he’s looked more of a threat in the wide areas than through the middle, as he’s not quite as natural a finisher as the other two.
“And who is to say it will be one of the other with Kyogo and Giakoumakis anyway? Postecoglou could play both.
“Kyogo wasn’t an out-and-out No.9 in Japan and there could be times when the pair of them play as a partnership. It’s a frightening prospect for defences.
“Like I say, nice problems for a manager to have.”
Coincidentally, Kyogo and Giakoumakis both fired in a double in Celtic’s 6-0 win over Motherwell at Parkhead on May 14 as the team brought down the curtain on a title-winning campaign in fine style.
The former Vissel Kobe hitman completed the term with 20 strikes while the Greek powerhouse collected 17.
Considering the players – who cost a joint £7.1million – were stricken by injury for chunks of the season, it is an exciting and intriguing prospect to see who will be the champions’ top gun when the new campaign comes to a halt, hopefully in the Scottish Cup Final at Hampden on June 3.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Blackburn Rovers this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.