BBC Scotland pundits Michael Stewart and Steven Thompson dished out high praise to Celtic star Ryan Christie over the weekend, after his classy performance against Ross County in the Scottish Premiership.
The attacking midfielder scored twice and assisted once in a 4-1 victory over the Staggies, ensuring that the Hoops maintain top spot in the table ahead of Rangers.
His double also means he moves clear as our top scorer so far this season, with 15, ahead of Odsonne Edouard and James Forrest who are both on 13.
The Scotland international’s flicked assist for Tom Rogic to fire home also brings his tally in that department into double figures.
It means his total contribution in 2019/20 stands at 15 goals and 10 assists in 27 appearances. Not bad for a player who only 18 months ago was pretty much frozen out of first-team selections.
Speaking on BBC Sportscene, Thompson said of the player: “He had a big influence on the match. This wee touch for the Rogic goal was absolutely sensational.
“He’s growing in stature and he now owns that shirt. He’s become such an important player for Celtic, he’s just getting better and better.”
The former Rangers man and his pundit partner Michael Stewart also used Christie as an example of a ‘great’ player currently playing in Scotland, refuting an earlier suggestion from Kris Boyd.
Boyd had said, live on Sky Sports (02/12 post-match): “A certain manager said to me ‘we think great players are here’. Let’s be honest there are no great players playing in Scotland. If we take what we think as an unbelievable league and standard of player, there’s hardly any of them going to England as well. I’ll stand by my comment I don’t think there is great players in Scottish football.”
Rather pointedly though, Sportscene took the opportunity to apparently poke fun at the Sky man.
In an amusing exchange, presenter Jonathan Sutherland asked: “Just how great a player is Ryan Christie?”
Stewart would go on to praise the Celtic star but failed to use the word great, so Thompson prodded him with: “Would you say he’s a great player?”
Stewart replied: “Very much so Thommo yeah.”
Sutherland followed up: “Would you concur with that Thommo?”
The former striker stated: “I would. I think he’s great.”
Media hijinks aside, the main thing to take from all this is just how big a player Christie has become for Celtic. There’s an argument to say he is our best and most importantly star right now.
Edouard and Forrest have been magical but Christie’s direct goal contributions, work ethic and versatility make him the first name on the teamsheet for me.
I had reservations about his ability to play in the same team as Rogic but his ability to find space and terrorise defenders cutting in from either flank is wonderful to watch.
If he can maintain his current form into the second half of the season then it’ll be hard to argue against him winning player of the year.
The only thing he hasn’t quite managed to do in a Celtic shirt is score against Rangers, but if he can prove to be a cup final hero this coming Sunday then his popularity is going to reach new heights.