Celtic Need New Striking Recruits Before Champions League Campaign

Celtic Park

We haven’t seen the back of June yet we already know Celtic’s starting point in their journey to reach next season’s lucrative Champions League group stages.

The Scottish champions have been paired up with Icelandic champs Stjarnan in the second qualifying round of the Champions League. Those ties will take place in the middle of July.

Celtic need to get it right this summer after they failed to make any real progress in Europe’s elite competition last year. The fans and the board members will be desperate to see Ronny Deila’s men to make it back to Europe’s top table this term as that will see glamour ties return to Celtic Park and a huge cash windfall for the club’s coffers.

But when you look at the Celtic first team squad, you cannot help but feel that they need strengthened in the forward departments.

Last year loanee John Guidetti had a great spell before Christmas but was disappointing after the turn of the year. The Swede won’t be back this summer as he stated himself:

 “I would start, but the day before the game he [Deila] said I would sit on the bench because I was not going to stay at the club, he said he would focus on the players who wanted to be there.”

Finnish striker Teemu Pukki has also left the Glasgow side, after he made his loan switch to Brondby permanent. I doubt many in the Celtic support will be disappointed by that news.

The thought of Amido Balde and Hólmbert Friðjónsson coming back to Parkhead after average loan spells away from the Hoops won’t make Ronny Deila’s heart skip a beat either.

I’d imagine that between them Leigh Griffiths, Anthony Stokes and Stefan Šćepović will have enough firepower to see them past Stjarnan but the tie after that will be more complicated and you’d think Celtic will need a better standard of striker.

Question marks remain regarding the true qualities of Scepovic, he struggled to impress last season. Stokes has a pretty woeful European goalscoring record with the Hoops. While Griffiths still needs to prove himself at that level.

Going by recent news reports Deila and his board know getting a new striker is a priority as they’ve been linked with moves for Steven Fletcher, Jelle Vossen, Milan Djuric and Juan Delgado.

The quicker Celtic can land a new hitman the better, as it will help in their preparation for the final qualifying rounds.

In the past Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell has waited as long as possible before spending proper cash in the transfer market. He usually waits for Champions League qualification and the money that brings into the club.

But as last season showed us, sometimes waiting can lead to a big fall and failure. Surely Mr Lawwell and the rest of the Celtic board are now aware that they should probably speculate to accumulate this preseason.

They are in a very tough position. Everyone can see where they need to strengthen but buying a forward capable of doing a job in Europe has recently proven to be extremely problematic for the Hoops.

Names like the aforementioned Pukki, Balde and Friðjónsson join the likes of Morten Rasmussen and Mohamed Bangura as inadequate forwards brought in for decent money.

Those failures will add a heap of pressure on the scouting team as they will have been told not to mess up this time!

In the past Lawwell has moaned that his side need to wait as the richer sides in Europe conclude their business. The time may have come for Celtic to act more aggressively during this transfer window and to go after targets in a quicker fashion.

I understand that Celtic don’t have a huge budget and that makes buying a ready-made striker a more difficult prospect. But alas failure to get any forward in before the next round of Champions League qualifiers could ultimately mean a second year in a row without proper Champions League football gracing Celtic Park.

That would be a huge blow for the clubs fans and the penny counting board!

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