The top 3 Celtic players of 2021

By David Walton

December 25, 2021

When we look back on 2021, it won’t be a year filled with fondness.

Sure, the second half has saw a much-needed rebuild that we all continue to eagerly anticipate the true fruits of. But if we’re going over the year as a whole, the disastrous first 6 months won’t be forgotten about in a hurry.

Neil Lennon may have left in February, but the John Kennedy reign wasn’t much better. It took for Ange Postecoglou to come in back in late June to turn things around. Even then it still took another 3 before we started seeing some tangible results as Ange went about his rebuild.

So going over our best players of 2021 certainly won’t see us come to an extensive list. Even so, there have certainly been some bright performers so let’s delve in and see who makes our top 3 list in no particular order:

1. Kyogo Furuhashi

When you think of the Ange Postecoglou era, Kyogo is the first face that comes to mind. He’s the poster boy of change at Celtic, similar to how Scott Sinclair impacted the club when he arrived under Brendan Rodgers.

This was Ange’s big summer signing, coming in at a reported fee of £4.6m [Scottish Sun]. Nobody knew what to expect despite the fact he was arriving as the J-League’s top scorer. It’s fair to say we’ve all been absolutely blown away by the striker’s movement and energy since then.

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Kyogo has already bagged 16 goals this season and we’re not even halfway through [Transfermarkt]. Despite coming from Japan, he’s taken absolutely no time to integrate into a totally different footballing environment and culture. It should, in theory, have taken the former Yokohama Marinos star weeks to get up to speed here.

Instead, he came in and totally rejuvenated our play in the final third. Teams now fear Celtic because of what Kyogo brings, whilst he’s also bringing commercial success to the club as we tap into the Japanese footballing fanbase.

Only earlier this month did Celtic open up a new Japanese section on the club’s website. They also now have a Japanese Twitter account too. And combine that with his on-field performances and it’s difficult not to get excited with what he’s bringing to the club.

2. Callum McGregor

We all know Callum underperformed last season for large spells, but he was by far the worst in our squad as the rest did the exact same.

McGregor played more or less every minute in 2021, barring the odd rest. In addition to that, he managed to become the club captain in a hugely proud honour for him back in the summer. Callum has been at the club since he was a boy, and has now managed to achieve the path 99% of us can only dream of.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In addition to that, Callum was the first one out to confront the Celtic criticism last season more than anyone else. Even more than captain Scott Brown. It was McGregor who immediately after games was coming out to answer fan queries and explain the dismal performances as best as he could.

He was always fan fans were willing to protect last term because it was clear he was one of the few who actually cared about what was happening. Last season hurt McGregor and it showed.

Now, he’s a staple in Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side. He’s a constant undroppable and is showing emerging leadership abilities both on the pitch and off it. He’s enjoying his football again, and without him Celtic would’ve struggled badly this term too.

We should thank our lucky stars we have a player that has so many on and off-field qualities at the club. He had to show all of them this year, and we tip our hat to him for that. Hopefully, 2022 proves to be more successful trophy-wise.

3. Jota

It’s funny, because if you actually look at when Jota truly started making an impact at Celtic, it was only at the start of October. That means he’s only really been at it in a Celtic jersey for 3 months. Not to mention he’s been injured for most of December.

Yet what other player at the club has actually had as big an impact bursting with superb performance after superb performance under his belt? There were certainly no individuals from last season that could stake that particular claim, even David Turnbull whose form dipped quickly.

Photo by Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Jota has been outrageous since his first Premiership goal at Aberdeen. On loan from Benfica with an option to buy fee of £6.5m [Sky Sports], he’s finally solved Celtic’s long-term left-wing issue. Mohamed Elyounoussi got so much praise last season and ended the campaign with 17 goals and 8 assists [Transfermarkt]. Jota already looks like surpassing that with 8 goals and 6 assists of his own already.

Nobody in Scotland can touch him. His technical ability is of a level that Scottish defences can’t cope with. He’s also showing a level of consistency that’s allowed Celtic to rely on him regularly. With a strong bond already building with the Celtic supporters, there have already been plenty of calls for the club to get a permanent deal done.

But Jota has been that effective that clubs from the top 5 European leagues are surely already sniffing. If they aren’t, more fool them. This Bhoy’s a player and could very well be shooting us to the title in 2022, so long as he’s back after the winter break.