It’s interesting today seeing some in the media talk about Albian Ajeti. As Kyogo looks to be great value for money, and as the big Greek prepares for his debut, the focus is on what the new boys will do, and how they will measure up as part of the new look team.
Little has been said about the third fit striker at the club, the £5 million man who hasn’t really made an impact since he was signed by Lennon at the start of the disastrous last campaign. Yet, you only need to look at the bald facts to see how important he is.
Take Kyogo. The Japanese Bhoy has been sensational for Celtic so far, and we’re all very excited about what he’ll do once the football re-starts at the weekend.
(I don’t think that’s the wrong phrase; the international games are lamentably boring and I don’t consider them to be worthy replacements for Celtic matches no matter how badly or well we’re playing.)
But Kyogo is juggling a lot of balls right now; he was halfway through a league campaign when we bought him, he’s playing internationals and now faces European fixtures on top of a heavy domestic schedule. He will need a break at some point.
Giorgos Giakoumakis has gotten the number seven shirt. He will be a key part of this season’s team, and no mistake. The top scorer in Holland isn’t being bought to warm the bench. The manager intends to rotate this squad and we’ll see plenty of him in the team.
Even with all the luck in the world though, things happen.
Players get injured. Players go off the boil. Players need extended rests.
Which means Ajeti is more than just a backup, he’s an integral member of this team.
The boy needs games to get up to speed.
He’s going to get them.
The schedule we have in front of us is momentous, and everyone in the squad is going to have to play a role in it.
Ajeti has been ill-used about as much as any player in our recent history; he has never been given a proper run-out in a team which plays to his strengths as a footballer and you can see those strengths in his record before he moved to England.
We forget several things about Ajeti, and we ignore those at our peril.
First, he won the top scorer award in Switzerland in 2017-18 with 17 goals.
The following season he scored 21 times for them in all competitions.
He’s had a good scoring ratio up until now.
Ajeti is on 63 career goals at club level, in 187 games.
It’s a one in three strike rate, and here’s the really amazing thing about it; Albian Ajeti is still only 24.
This is a player whose development years were interrupted a move to England he wasn’t ready for and then a move to Celtic during one of the worst seasons in our living memory.
The epic weirdness of last season frazzled a lot of players.
We shouldn’t judge him on what we witnessed in the last campaign; he will improve.
He has a lot to offer us.
He needs games, regular starts, if he’s going to fulfil his potential.
And at some point in the next few weeks and months he’ll get that chance.
We should be supportive of him when he does.
I for one am looking forward to his showing us all what he can do.