Last week, Celtic announced the signing of Polish under-21 international Patryk Klimala for an estimated fee of £3.5 million. Since then, the assumption around most of the Celtic support has been that this spells the end for either Leigh Griffiths or Vakoun Bayo. As Celtic tend to play just one up top, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where both players will stay long-term and be happy dipping in and out of the squad. So, if one of the hitmen is to leave, who should it be?
Leigh Griffiths is one of Celtic’s most prolific strikers in modern history. With a total of 107 goals, he is part of an elite club that includes Henrik Larsson, Jimmy McGrory, Jimmy Johnstone, and only a few more legends to have reached a century of goals for Celtic. His CV suggests that we’d be mad to let him go. If only it were that simple, right? Leigh Griffiths has always come with some inevitable baggage as he has faced a constant battle with the ever-scrutinising Scottish media. The Scotland striker has had extreme difficulties in the last couple of years as he took leave for the majority of the 2018/19 season due to mental health issues. Since returning at the start of this season, the Celtic support have hardly seen him. Regrettably, Griffiths seems constantly unable to stay fit, leaving Odsonne Edouard to dictate the front line for the hoops. Despite a rare goal this season for Griffiths at the weekend, could any Celtic fan honestly say they see Leigh Griffiths being a long-term solution?
On the other hand, Vakoun Bayo arrived at the club this time last year and it remains extremely hard to tell just what kind of striker the Ivorian is. A horrendously unlucky time with injuries has meant that Bayo’s Celtic career has consisted of just two competitive starts and a handful of fairly irrelevant substitute appearances. A number of Celtic fans have suggested that it is time to cut our losses on the big man and put Bayo in the hefty “failed striker project” file along with Amido Balde, Chris Killen and Pawel Brozek…need I go on? However, what should not be ignored is that in the admittedly tiny number of games that the Ivory Coast hitman has started, he has done relatively well. Against Hearts at the start of the season he caused all sorts of problems, finishing the game with two goals (despite Craig Levein’s claims of own goals). He then scored in the League Cup against Partick Thistle while demonstrating his ability to link up with players around him, not unlike Odsonne Edouard. Bayo is a long way off the finished article and he has no chance at Celtic if his fitness and injury record can’t improve. However, it would be naïve to end his Celtic career now. There is more to come from the former Dunajská Streda star.
Regardless of the current situation, it is very unlikely that either striker will leave Celtic permanently this window. We still have to see if Patryk Klimala falls into the Edouard, Dembele category of strikers or if he becomes the latest addition to the afore mentioned failed Celtic strikers profile. However, the Pole comes with a solid reputation, therefore it would seem for now that Griffiths and Bayo will have to fight for that 3rd spot. Both strikers have been linked with loan moves, which could be beneficial. There is evidence of a player in there with Bayo that could burst into life with a run in another team, to be continued with Celtic this season. With Leigh Griffiths, we know what to get when he is at his best: guaranteed goals. However, can Celtic gamble on Griffiths getting back to his best? Time will tell.
Conclusively, it seems the best situation is for one of the strikers to leave on loan this month, ideally to a club in Scottish Premiership. They could get a better grip of the game again, while potentially helping to derail our Glasgow rivals from afar.
Who do you think should stay and who should go?