Former Celtic striker John Hartson has urged current Hoops forward Leigh Griffiths to stay at the club and fight for his place following the arrival of Patryk Klimala this week.
Polish striker Klimala completed a £3.5m move to Parkhead on Tuesday (as per The Scottish Sun), with Griffiths eliciting an angry reaction from some Celtic fans over his social media activity after that deal was announced. As noted by the Daily Record, he deleted his Twitter account after he had posted a GIF of him putting his fingers to his ears, while he also ‘liked’ a tweet from journalist Stefan Bienkowski which claimed that his days at the club could be numbered.
Griffiths has only started one Premiership match for the Hoops this season and has been advised by ex-Scotland internationals Barry Ferguson and Alan Hutton to consider a move away from Parkhead. However, speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound, Hartson instead called on the 29-year-old to prove that he still has plenty to offer to his manager Neil Lennon at Celtic.
The former Wales striker said: “If you’re Leigh Griffiths, you see it as a challenge. You want to stay and prove you can still do it at this level. He’s been pivotal to Celtic’s success in recent years.”
Hartson added: “Leigh is a goalscorer. It will be interesting to see whether there are whispers that he’s really not happy, wants to move, wants more game time, or can Neil persuade him and say there are still opportunities and he still has a major part to play?
“When you’ve got too many players fighting for a certain position, you are going to get one or two unhappy. That’s when the manager is very important by still keeping them hungry and when they do get that chance, they make sure they are ready.”
Hartson has correctly cited Griffiths’ impressive record in his time at Celtic, with the forward scoring 107 goals and providing 46 goals in 221 games for the club. He has won six league titles, two Scottish Cups and four Scottish League Cups at Parkhead and was named PFA Scotland Player of the Year in 2015/16, having scored 40 goals in all competitions that season.
However, after taking time away from football last year due to a battle with depression (as per BBC), he has struggled to win over Lennon this season. Of his 18 appearances in the current campaign, 13 have been as a substitute, while the last of his three goals in 2019/20 came way back in August (as per TransferMarkt).
Hartson alluded to the level of competition for the centre-forward berth at Celtic, with Odsonne Edouard the most-utilised option in that role thanks to his 16 goals for the season. Lennon has started most games with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with room for just one centre-forward in his preferred line-up, and Klimala’s arrival at Parkhead serves only to intensify the competition for that position.
Unfortunately for Griffiths, the furore over his social media activity earlier in the week might not have gone down too well with Lennon, who last summer publicly admonished Olivier Ntcham for speaking out of turn. At the moment, the 29-year-old striker’s prospects of playing regularly at Celtic don’t appear too great, and while Hartson has challenged him to fight for his place in the team, Griffiths could be better served with a loan spell away from Parkhead after six years at the club in order to reclaim regular game-time and reinvigorate his career.
Celtic fans, do you think Hartson is right to advise Griffiths to stay and fight for his place or would he be better off going out on loan? Join in the discussion by commenting below!
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