Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas has got it wrong over Ismaila Soro

By Euan Davidson

August 10, 2021

Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas has suggested the club should sell Ismaila Soro, if it means keeping Ryan Christie.

With a world-class hat-trick of assists on Sunday, Christie was central to everything good about the Bhoys against Dundee. When he wasn’t nutmegging suffering defenders, he was finding pin-point passes. His delivery for Kyogo Furuhashi’s third was legitimately outstanding.

All fine and well, and Celtic really ought to keep ahold of the Scotland star. But there was a strange angle that the former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas took; we should sell Soro if it means keeping Christie.

In his column for the Daily Express [print edition, 10/08, page 57], Nicholas wrote:

“Celtic must raise the funds to keep Ryan Christie – even if it means selling other players to do so.

“Hat-trick hero Kyogo Furuhashi got all the headlines after last weekend’s 6-0 win over Dundee but Christie was the main man with his passing and pace.

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“There is talk that the club will make him a new offer but why didn’t they do that weeks ago?

“If it comes down to it, they should sell Leigh Griffiths or Ismaila Soro to fund his wages.”

Ah now, hold on former Celtic man Charlie Nicholas; are we really talking about selling fan favourite Ismaila Soro?

So, yes: Christie was very, very good. He has been since Ange Postecoglou arrived; it’s almost as if being given specific attacking instructions and being played in one of his better positions works.

Is this an actual narrative to be throwing in, though? Soro hasn’t come firing out the blocks, granted, but he’s not shamed himself either. One of the only highlights of 20-21, and we’re talking about discarding him already?

Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images

Unless there are stories at Celtic Park beyond the supporters’ knowledge, it’s unlikely we’d need to sell anyone to facilitate a better contract for Ryan Christie. He’s never struck as being financially motivated before now, and if we can improve his terms, then surely a deal would get done.

Selling Griffiths is an understandable shout. However, let’s nip any talk of letting go of Soro in the bud. As far as left-field suggestions go, this is a blaring “Ah now hold on” klaxon.

Leaving James McCarthy and Nir Bitton as our only defensive midfielders seems a bit of a gamble, no? On his day (and we’ve seen enough of those to know they can happen), Soro is everywhere. His unique energy, ability to win the ball back and propensity to distribute it forward could be vital for Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic.

The Ivorian is a legitimate fan favourite. His energy and his technical ability are surely understood now.

Ismaila Soro is worth keeping

So, this seems utterly bizarre. The pendulum of public opinion swings very quickly, but it doesn’t seem too long ago that Soro was the future, and Ryan Christie was, to many, the kind of player we needed shot of.

This kind of reactionary take is alarmist stuff. Yes, Ryan Christie should stay at Celtic, he’s already proven over years that he’s a fantastic contributor under the right direction.

Photo by David Cannon/Allsport

So, sorry Charlie, but this is a very, very strange take. Soro, like everyone at the club, has to prove themselves over and over again, every week. That’s the nature of football.

To say he’s the finished article would be premature, too. But getting rid of him to facilitate a Christie contract? Not only is it totally unnecessary, but surely unfair to talk about an important player in those terms.

Read more: Supporters react to exciting transfer talk