Sutton picks his preferred Kyogo crisis solution as Ange weighs up Celtic options

By Euan Davidson

December 11, 2021

Ange Postecoglou – in case you missed it – has a huge problem at Celtic in the absence of Kyogo, Ajeti and Giakoumakis.

As it stands, we don’t know any of the trio will come back. Kyogo is a particularly sore one, given that he really didn’t need to play against Betis, and was surely being saved for a decisive December run.

It’s left the manager with quite a quandary. There are players in the squad who could play centre-forward. Equally, Postecoglou could turn to B Team solutions like Joey Dawson or Owen Moffat. Mikey Johnston has played in the role before.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Albian Ajeti has had a mixed run so far this season, either scoring winning goals or being entirely anonymous up front for Celtic. Meanwhile Giorgos Giakoumakis arrived at Celtic with a shoulder injury and no pre-season. In two big appearances for Celtic, he scored a great goal against St Johnstone, but utter flubbed a spot-kick late on against Livingston.

With Daizen Maeda hopefully on his way, but not until January, Postecoglou will have to improvise.

For Chris Sutton, it’s Liel Abada who should get the nod from the Celtic boss to replace Kyogo.

In his Daily Record column, Sutton wrote: “Who does he go with up top? I think it will be Abada.

“He looked really effective when he moved in against Real Betis and he’s got the speed and movement to slot in for Kyogo. It’s all about movement, dragging defenders and attacking the middle of the goal.

“Abada could be that man but he’ll need help.”

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Chris Sutton is right; Liel Abada is most obvious answer to Ange’s Kyogo quandary

Given that Abada played some games at centre-forward last season, the experience is there. Fine, it’s only a sample size of 7 games, but he scored 4 times for Maccabi Petah Tikva last season [Transfermarkt].

Also, Sutton has made a point that nobody else seems to have yet; Kyogo isn’t a typical number 9. To replace him might actually be easier in some ways, than it would to replace Odsonne Edouard or even, for example, Chris Sutton in the team.

That doesn’t diminish Kyogo’s qualities, far from it. The Japanese forward has been prolific, and a revelation for Scottish football. But he’s not your typical centre-forward, and that’s exactly what sets him apart.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

That’s perhaps why when Ajeti came in, it often looked disjointed. Because the Swiss striker has a history of being more of a goal poacher, especially for FC Basel, he looked a bit confused as to how much he was meant to do.

Kyogo is a very clear ideological fit for Ange’s system, but the system might mean that a winger or forward with plenty of running who can create space and press from the front will mean it’s not as painful an experience as we’re bracing ourselves for.

Theoretically, at least. Abada can give defenders a hard time regardless of where he starts. We’ve seen that.

And we’ve also seen him get into good central positions and score goals.

Read more: Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou reflects honestly on his damaging Kyogo decision