This article forms part of our Total Duds feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at a player who disappointed after being signed, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to illustrate how ill-judged the transfer decision had been.
Teemu Pukki began this season in excellent form, hitting six goals for Norwich in their first five Premier League games upon returning to the division.
While he hasn’t netted in seven subsequent matches for the Canaries, he came to the fore at the perfect time for Finland last week, scoring twice to seal the victory over Liechtenstein which ensured Euro 2020 qualification and a first-ever major tournament for the Scandinavian country, as per UEFA.com.
Six years have now elapsed since Pukki first came to Britain, having joined Celtic from Schalke 04 in August 2013 in a deal worth £2.25m, according to TransferMarkt.
The Finland striker, who was 23 at the time, got off to a fast start for the Hoops, scoring in his first two Premiership games against Hearts and St Johnstone.
If Celtic fans thought that would be start of a prolonged flurry of goals throughout the season, though, they would be sorely mistaken.
Pukki went almost three months before his next goal for the club against Hibernian, and having played in every league match in that time, it wasn’t as if Neil Lennon was depriving him of opportunities to make his mark.
By mid-season, managers and journalists were acknowledging that the Finn was not having much joy at Celtic – compatriot Mixu Paatelainen, who was Hibernian manager at the time, said that he had “made a slow start at Celtic“; while an article in the Irish Independent noted how, when the Hoops encountered a flight delay to Turkey in January 2014, it was an accurate metaphor for how Pukki’s Parkhead career had yet to take off.
By 2014, the striker saw his game-time at Celtic diminish, with only four goals in the second half of the season. That summer, Pukki admitted in an interview with the Daily Record that he had found the pace and physicality of the Scottish Premiership tougher than he originally anticipated.
He said: “When I first arrived maybe I thought it would be easier but Scottish football is not easy. It’s not a bad league at all, it’s a very good one.” [via Daily Record]
Pukki offered a ray of hope that he could yet come good at Celtic by scoring twice in a Champions League qualifying win over KR Reykjavik in July 2014, only to be substituted at half-time in their following qualifier away to Legia Warsaw, an ignominious 4-1 defeat.
He also got the hook at half-time in a 0-1 Premiership loss to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in August 2014, which proved to be a sombre end to a Celtic career that concluded a few days later when he moved to Brondby.
Pukki’s time at Celtic ended with nine goals in 38 appearances, a return which paled in comparison with the 31 goals in 51 games that Gary Hooper had scored in his final season at the club just before the Finn’s arrival.
Now 29, Pukki has managed to put his Celtic misery behind him but his time at Parkhead looks set to go down as one of the less celebrated periods of his career.
Celtic fans, were you disappointed with Pukki’s spell at the club? Are you surprised with how he has performed for Norwich and Finland this year? Comment below with your views!
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