Frank McAvennie believes Albian Ajeti should be Celtic's last-choice striker
Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie believes current Hoops forward Albian Ajeti should be the last-choice striker at Parkhead.
Ajeti arrived to much fanfare in the summer in what was a mega-money £5million deal from West Ham United (Sky Sports). His start backed up the transfer fee too as he struck home a superb five goals in his first six Premiership games. It’s fair to say he looked a steal.
Since his fifth goal, however – scored in a 3-0 win over Hibs back in September – Ajeti has been on a drought. He’s played in 10 different matches since and hasn’t been able to find the net, with recent outings now coming from the bench as he continues to struggle.
Meanwhile, the likes of Patryk Klimala has been impressing again after shining against Lille, whilst Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths’ qualities are well known. And McAvennie believes that now is the time to place Ajeti at the bottom of the ladder as he bigged up Griff in particular.
As quoted by the Glasgow Times, McAvennie said: “I’d play Griffiths. With Griffiths, Lenny keeps saying that he needs to get fit. If that’s the case then someone has to get him fit and surely that’s the manager’s job or, if it’s not him, then the coaches. But I think he’s the best finisher at the club.
“Edouard’s a better player, but Griffiths has the edge when it comes to taking chances. I’d then put Patryk Klimala ahead of Albian Ajeti.”
Is Ajeti seriously fourth-choice?
This is one that’s certainly going to divide opinion, and no wonder given how differently every Celtic fan views each striker.
There’s no denying Ajeti’s goal drought simply hasn’t been good enough, whilst Klimala’s work-rate against Lille was extremely impressive as he bossed their two centre-backs. More chances for him are a necessity, whilst it does feel as though the Swiss forward has had his own opportunities in recent weeks.
However, it’s important to remember that so much of our play in the final third has been slow and predictable. Not one of our strikers has been scoring regularly of late, and that shows that there’s a bigger picture here than just a poor goal return from the strikers.
Personally, I would like to see how Ajeti fares alongside Edouard on a regular basis, with David Turnbull just in behind them linking up the play. There’s definitely something in that, and given the lack of service Ajeti has received, it only feels right that he gets another chance with the team looking rejuvenated again. He was hardly helped given most of his chances came during the club’s recent decline.
Given how much Ajeti cost the club, I think you have to stick with him further. Taking him out the side for a few weeks is fair enough, but any longer and it could be the worst thing we do with him. A similar type of decision to the one Lennon made on Shane Duffy could work nicely.
But it’s not as if Griffiths or Klimala have actually shown more than Ajeti this season. I would put them all on a level scale when it comes to who should partner Edouard consistently, given the Frenchman won’t be dropped anytime soon. It still feels harsh to be putting the ex-West Ham man behind everyone else at the moment, and it wouldn’t say much for Lennon’s recruitment either.