It seems early – madly early – to be talking about a player of the year in Scottish football, but actually there are standout candidates already and I think it’s almost certain than one of them will win. The favourite amongst the fans of Celtic is Kyogo Furuhashi.
There is no way that he won’t be on the shortlist when the gongs are being given out.
But he won’t win folks; in fact, I don’t think he has a chance.
That the award will go to Celtic Park really doesn’t seem to be in the slightest doubt.
No player outside of Parkhead stands out the way our leading men do. But to me, for all Kyogo has been brilliant, two other Celtic players have a much better claim right now and if they continue to do what they are doing on the pitch they should be in front of him.
One of them is Anthony Ralston, for his improvement, for his comeback, for his general all round play.
He was immense again at the weekend and one of the reasons I’d vote for him first is that he has come out of nowhere to be a contender. He has not just impressed Celtic fans, he has amazed them and one of the truisms of our game is that guys in his position rarely get the gong.
The awards mostly go to the players in the sexy roles. Occasionally a footballer stands out in one of the less fancied positions – like Kieran Tierney – and makes it a no-brainer, but these mainly go to those players in the top half of the pitch who change results.
And so it will be here, of course, because the player of the year certainty isn’t Kyogo, it’s Jota.
Even more so than Ralston, he has astonished fans who didn’t quite know what to expect. His football has been sensational to watch already and I think he stands so far above every other player in the league that you could end the contest and give him the gong right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I will shed no tears if Kyogo or Ralston gets in.
But it just so happens that they have both burst onto the scene in a year when another of our players is just so obviously the best footballer in the country. It is a pleasure watching all three of them, but our boy out on the left is a true entertainer in a way we’ve not seen in a long time.
The battle between these three will be fierce, and only one of them will come out on top.
Kyogo has a very good chance of winning it, especially if he breaks through that psychologically important 30 goal mark, but to me Jota is the star man in this side and I suspect that when it comes time for the league’s players to cast their votes it will be his face that haunts their nightmares, and in particular those who have to go head to head with him out wide.
The thing is, of course, in just about any other year Kyogo would have won this by a country mile.
It is a measure of how well the rebuild has gone, and how well Ange has done, that this is a matter of debate and that the debate revolves around three of our own.