Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths' contract situation throws up some questions
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths is amongst those fighting for Neil Lennon’s favour.
The Scotland international and Bhoys mainstay has struggled over recent seasons. In fact, over the last few weeks alone, his attitude and performances have been cause for concern. The Celtic boss dropped Griffiths against Kilmarnock last Tuesday [Scottish Sun], in a season which has been interrupted by injuries and a lack of fitness.
In fact, Griff turned up to training overweight [Glasgow Live], which set a foreboding tone for 20-21.
With his contract up in 2022, a difficult question emerges: is Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths worth the trouble? He’ll be 31 when his contract is up, so should the Bhoys look to sell him while they can?
Here, we argue the case for and against keeping Leigh Griffiths. You can make up your own mind, we’ll just present the most compelling arguments.
The arguments for Celtic keeping Leigh Griffiths
The main argument for Leigh Griffiths is an extremely obvious one.
When he’s on form, he scores goals at a great volume. Over 251 first-team appearances, Griffiths has scored 122 goals, with 51 assists [Transfermarkt]. That’s enviable output, which makes the prospect of losing him concerning.
This season alone, he’s managed 5 in 13. Given that he’s been in and out of the team, that’s not that bad. Especially with just 2.5 shots per game [WhoScored?].
When he’s fit and his mindset is right, Griffiths is a prolific goalscorer. He’s got us out of plenty of tricky matches since joining the club in 2014, scoring in big matches and combining well with the various strikers he’s played next to.
His partnership with Odsonne Edouard worked wonders before the Premiership season was cut short. Playing together, they combined for 30 league goals, with 16 assists in 19/20. Griffiths fox-in-the-box instincts are well-known, but with the Frenchman next to him, Griff can come deep or run between the lines to create space and opportunties.
Equally, he provides continuity to a side in flux. Inevitably, the summer of 2021 will be a transitional period for Celtic. His closest confidante in the changing room, Scott Brown, may well leave the club. As someone who has spent his best years at Celtic, he could be a valuable resource for a new manager to integrate into the set-up.
Equally, he could be useful for mentoring reasons. The likes of Owen Moffat and Patryk Klimala can surely learn from his example on the pitch.
The case for letting Griffiths go
Yes, when he’s on form, he’s irrepressible. His goalscoring instincts are fantastic, and he’s an excellent finisher. We’ve seen enough examples of that to not question this about him.
How often do we see that over a run of 2 or 3 games, though? Especially over the last season or two, Griffiths has been in and out, picking up niggling injuries or struggling with his conditioning.
On a reported £18k a week [Football League FC], does Griff represent value for money, going forward? Or, is it time to let other players take his place in the Celtic squad? This summer is probably the last opportunity to make money from the striker, and given the havoc of Covid-19 on finances in football, it’s not inconceivable to imagine the club trying to make a penny or two from him.
Because, facts being facts, Griffiths has let the club down repeatedly. Whether it’s turning up to pre-season in an unfit condition, breaching Covid-19 rules [Glasgow Times], or generally playing under the expected levels, he’s probably not done enough this season to justify staying on.
With the money spent on Griffiths, there could well be better options. At the wrong side of 30, he might be able to find a final long contract on similar money elsewhere. For all parties, that might be the best option.