Celtic-linked Steven Fletcher says mind was swayed towards Stoke prior to Hoops talks

By David Walton

August 16, 2020

Celtic-linked Steven Fletcher has stated that a conversation he had with Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill last month swayed his summer decision.

Fletcher had been linked with Celtic at the beginning of August, with the Daily Record reporting nearly two weeks ago that he was set to sign for the Hoops.

Neil Lennon had also admitted his own admiration of the experienced front-man (Glasgow Times).

However, in the end, it appears has mind was just about made up even before those talks as he hailed the effect of former Northern Ireland manager O’Neill in luring him to the Potters.

Steven Fletcher has signed for Stoke (photo by Steve Feeney/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Speaking to Stoke City’s official website, Fletcher touched on his signing process: “I am absolutely delighted. It’s a massive club to come and play for. I spoke to the manager about a month ago and it was a good conversation.

“After I walked out of that meeting, I knew I’d really love to work with him.

“The way he sees this club and where he wants it to be was one of the main points that I took from that. When I left that meeting on the way home I thought he’d be a really good manager to work with. And I’ve got that chance now.”

Ajeti was a better bet

You won’t find too many Celtic fans overly-disappointed at missing out on Fletcher.

Sure, he has a wealth of experience to his name including just under 190 Premier League matches down south (Transfermarkt), but is he still at that standard nowadays to be what Celtic would need him to be?

Instead, the Hoops wrapped up the £5million signing of West Ham United’s Albian Ajeti (Sky Sports).

How do both men’s stats compare in recent years?

The standout period of Ajeti’s career came during his spell with Basel in Switzerland. A healthy 43 goals in 96 games reads well (Transfermarkt), with 28 of them coming in 56 Swiss Super League appearances over the course of the 2018 and 2019 campaigns respectively.

New Celtic signing Albian Ajeti / (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

It has taken Fletcher over 88 Championship appearances to hit that same amount of league goals (Transfermarkt). The most that the big Scotland forward has ever scored in a single league season is 13 – a record he matched last term with Sheffield Wednesday.

So the new Stoke City star doesn’t scream out as clinical. He wouldn’t be popping up with goals for Celtic on a weekly basis if his history is anything to go by.

Ajeti’s record in Switzerland suggests he could be more ruthless if given chances at Parkhead.

Those penalty box instincts are what we need.

In other news, former Celtic man Davie Provan has hit out at Kris Boyd’s verdict that the Hoops should be deducted points.