Who will lead the line for Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic?

In the final part of our Celtic squad assessment series, we finish with a look at arguably the most exciting position on the park; the strikers.

During his first spell at the club, Brendan Rodgers inherited 40-goal Leigh Griffiths and brought both Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard to the club.  This time around, the Northern Irishman inherits a squad light on numbers up front but, in Kyogo Furuhashi, has arguably the best and most well-rounded forward in the country.

As we remember from his first spell at the club, Brendan Rodgers favours a strong and technical striker to lead the line, hence the importance of bringing Dembele and Edouard to the club; both of whom flourished under Rodgers’ guidance.

However, it is worth noting that Rodgers also incorporated strikers such as Jamey Vardy and Luis Suarez into his previous sides.  Like Vardy and Suarez, Kyogo’s game relies on intelligence, speed, and off-the-ball movement rather than physical strength. It will be interesting to see how the Rodgers/Kyogo dynamic plays out.

But one striker in the current squad who does meet the physical criteria of a Brendan Rodgers centre-forward is Oh.  The South Korean has made a decent impact since arriving in January and could see increased minutes under the new manager.

Then, of course, there is Albian Ajeti….



When fit, Kyogo Furuhashi scores goals. Simple as that.  The Japanese forward has hit the back of the net 54 times in 83 appearances and the prospect of watching him link up with Rodgers is an exciting proposition.

After an injury-plagued first season, that still saw him score 20 goals in 33 appearances, Kyogo followed that up with an even more impressive return of 34 goals in 50 appearances last season.  The only downside to last season came in Europe where Kyogo failed to register a goal, something had managed 5 times the previous year.

A deadly finisher inside the penalty area, a lot of Kyogo’s work off the ball goes unnoticed as his goals hit the headlines.  Kyogo is a selfless team player whose off-the-ball movement often creates space for others to play in, or helps to put him in golden areas to receive a pass; even if the pass is not always forthcoming.

An intelligent player with a growing knack for scoring in the big games, it is little wonder that Kyogo has been linked with a move to a bigger league this summer.  The forward is on record as saying he “wanted to have a long rest and think over things” which suggests he understands the importance of this summer and any potential transfer that may transpire.

Of course, staying with Celtic means improving under Brendan Rodgers, getting another crack at the Champions League, and taking his game to yet another new level.


Oh is a player with a bright future at Celtic, and Brendan Rodgers coming in could unlock the potential quality that he has shown in glimpses during his time at the club so far.

By the end of last season, Oh was averaging a goal every 80 minutes and the Korean could be the physical type of striker Brendan Rodgers prefers.

Strong and powerful on the ball, with a good eye for goal, and fond of a cocky celebration, Oh has the potential to become a breakout player under Brendan Rodgers.

However, the 22-year-old still needs some time to adapt to the game in Scotland and is so far untested at the European level.  Next season will likely come too soon for him to become the number-one forward at the club, but it could be a good learning curve for him as he continues his development.

Big things are expected from Oh and it will be interesting to see how hard he is able to challenge Kyogo for the main striker role as the season progresses.


In his early days at the club, the Swiss international showed flashes of quality and a knack for goal. However, that early promise has quickly evaporated with a string of below-par performances combined with his part to play (or lack of) in the collapse of Celtic’s ten-in-a-row attempt.

His second chance at the club came when an injury to Kyogo early on into Ange Postecoglou’s tenure at the club opened the door for some rare game time. He looked impressive in an away defeat to Real Betis, however, a poorly timed injury led to him losing the chance to gain some precious form.

The emergence of Giorgios Giakoumakis, returning from injury around the same time, almost seemed to seal Ajeti’s fate and spell the end of his time as a serious first-team player under Ange.

A poor loan spell at Sturm Graz last season was the final nail in the coffin for Ajeti’s time at Celtic and with his contract up at the end of the coming season, if Celtic wishes to try and recoup some of the £4.7 million back that they initially paid for the 26-year-old then now would be the time to sell.

The hope come the end of the transfer window is that Kyogo and Oh can be supplemented with a third striker of real quality, perhaps someone with that ruthless cutting edge that was so dearly missing in Europe last season.

As for Albian Ajeti, a clean start elsewhere is probably the best solution for all concerned.

James McKenzie / Kevin McCluskie




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