Chris Sutton has provided a no-holding-back assessment of Leigh Griffiths as he claimed the Celtic star’s Parkhead future is non-existent.
There have been plenty of question marks over what will happen to Griffiths ahead of the summer rebuild. The striker is into the final year of his contract, with Celtic having the option to activate a further year. Interim boss John Kennedy, meanwhile, said that talks will be held between the club and Griffiths at some stage [Celtic TV].
Griffiths has once again struggled to produce for the Hoops this season. So far this term, the former Hibs and Wolves man has bagged only seven goals. Griffiths has been given a total of 849 minutes of action this season too. Whilst his opportunities have been stop-start, he’s certainly been given those chances.
And Sutton believes that the time is right to let the Scotland international go after another struggling campaign.
“Writing has been on the wall”
Speaking in his Daily Record column, Sutton said: “A decision will need to be made about Leigh Griffiths but I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see him being allowed to go. I know that we’ve had our differences in recent times but I’ve always said he’s the best natural finisher in the country and a fit and firing Leigh Griffiths is a huge asset for Celtic.
“But how often have we seen that in recent years? He turned the season around in three impressive months last year but it’s not happened this term. Griffiths has been a tremendous servant to Celtic but the writing has been on the wall for a while and football is a ruthless game.
“Will the new manager be able to hang their hat on him? The last few haven’t. Howe will have his own ideas anyway and I’m sure he’s analysing the squad from afar. As for interest from other clubs, it’s his right to keep his options open, anyone else in that situation would do the same, and all Celtic can do is hope they sell him on the club.”
Chris Sutton not wrong on Leigh Griffiths, but Celtic must be wary of how many strikers they sell
Not one of Sutton’s points here are invalid. Griffiths last bagged over 20 goals in the 2015/16 season under Ronny Deila. That was the year he rattled home 40 goals as Celtic’s number one striker. But there’s a feeling now that he’s been living off that campaign in particular for too long.
Even so, Celtic have to look at their own situation before deciding what to do with Griffiths. After all, it could be the case that too many centre-forwards leave this summer and we’re left with only Albian Ajeti.
That’s because Patryk Klimala has already been linked with a move to the New York Red Bulls [Glasgow Times]. As for Odsonne Edouard, he’s into the final year of his contract and looks destined to depart this summer. There are major risks involved if we allow Griffiths to do the same.
It leaves the new manager needing to bring in at least two centre-forwards. Three if he’s looking to regularly play with two up top. Nothing screams a rebuild like needing a plethora of new strikers.
You would like to think any decision on Griffiths’ future will come from the new manager of course. He’ll need to get a good look at Griff before his contract is up one way or another. Or, at the very least, have a decision in mind based on what he’s seen from the outside. At the end of the day, however, it needs to be his decision.
But we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. Griffiths hasn’t necessarily earned an extra year at Celtic, but given the amount of departures that look set to happen this season, he may need to be kept on.