Undoubtedly, Celtic are set to lose a raft of senior players this summer in the midst of a colossal rebuild at Parkhead.
One man who has been perpetually linked with moves away from the Hoops is Ryan Christie, who has received a mixed reception from the Parkhead faithful this campaign.
One of the most talented players at the club, the Scotland international has endured a frustrating season by his standards.
Despite this, under the correct guidance, Christie has an abundance of untapped potential in relation to his playing development.
With his contract due to expire in 2022, the Celts need to act fast in order to secure his services beyond next season [Transfermarkt].
Christie has routinely been played out of position which has hampered his influence this season
After James Forrest hobbled off injured away to Latvian side Riga last September [The Scottish Sun], Celtic did not act incisively to bring in reinforcements.
Therefore, Christie was farmed out to the right-wing in order to compensate for his absence. He has also played in centre-forward, centre-midfield and even the left-wing position in 2020/21 [Transfermarkt].
Nobody is trying to say that Christie has replicated the sparkling form he showed last season. However, what chance has he had considering he has been selected in unfamiliar roles on a regular basis?
Although he has only scored six goals this campaign from 40 games, Christie has laid on a further 14 for his counterparts which is commendable [Transfermarkt]. For someone perceived to be out of form, one goal contribution every two games is quite remarkable and illustrates his creative intuition
Furthermore, frequent criticisms of his long-range shooting are slightly over the top. Intriguingly, Christie only averages around 2.6 shots per 90 minutes which is not actually an insane quantity [WhoScored].
His pressing work is also excellent, making him on of the most hardworking players within the current crop of Celtic players.
One of Celtic’s biggest workers
Furthermore, anyone who follows Celtic is able to see his efforts from range have decreased under John Kennedy. In May 2020 Ryan Christie elaborated on his role and instructions under Neil Lennon at the time, stating:
“I have enjoyed every minute of it and I would say I have become a better player under him. The gaffer has given me a license to express myself more.
“I loved playing under Brendan Rodgers but it was probably a more rigid formation and a number eight role. The current gaffer has let me loose a bit and you can see that in the goals and assists I have.
Creative freedom for players is something always prevalent within successful sides. Conversely, this campaign we have witnessed where the shackles are needed in order to maximise individual output.
Under the correct system and knowing exactly when to break between the lines, Christie could be the best player in Scotland. His unique sense of spatial awareness, work rate and technical ability have shot him to prominence for club and country.
Applied under a high-calibre coach, the Scot would be able to harness these abilities to the next level. Theoretically, Celtic could double his value within the space of a year under an Eddie Howe type of manager. Howe would be attracted to his cultured nature, which tempered effectively could result in considerable goal contributions for Christie in 2021/22.
Christie has put on record his eagerness to win the Scottish Premiership title back next season
Finally, as quoted by the Daily Record; Ryan Christie delivered a signal of intent last month regarding the Scottish Premiership title, stating the following:
“Every player, not just me, at the club is hurting and wants to put things right. Everybody has that champion’s mentality. That’s how we got to the position we have over the last four or five years.
“Everyone is desperate to have that feeling back again, so everyone has that hunger again. We want to put things right. John Kennedy touched on that and is trying to get that mindset back. That’s what champions do.
The former Inverness man has shown he gets what Celtic are all about. Personally, he seems as invested in endeavouring to win football matches as any Hoops supporter or player. Nevertheless, signing a new contract would provide the player and the club with much-needed assurances moving ahead.