Why It Makes Sense
For The Club
Celtic supporters wanted a player who could boost their chances of performing in Europe. Is Leigh Griffiths that man? On first glance the answer would appear to be a resounding “no!”. The highest level he’s played at is the Scottish Premiership and his previous club didn’t want anything to do with him until they dropped into the third tier of English football. However, judging a player purely by his career history is lazy analysis. Football is littered with stories of players who have come from humble beginnings to star on the biggest stage. Did Celtic fans think that Gary Hooper would go on to help the team achieve qualification from the Champions League group stages when he first arrived from Scunthorpe? If Griffiths can become a Celtic star on domestic duty his confidence will rise and he should improve as a player. He certainly has the tools capable of impacting the game on that grandest stage.
He’s a match winner, pure and simple. Last year we gave him the Most Valuable Player award for the Scottish Premiership. Hibs fans shudder to think where their team would have ended up last year were it not for Griffiths’s goals. There were times when he just seemed to take over matches and opposing teams could not deal with him at all. Whenever he comes within 30 yards of goal he’s in scoring range and often likes to test the theory, usually with positive results. This is a trait that could come in very handy for Celtic on those European nights away from home when every other member of the team is stationed around their own 18 yard box. He’s not a great lone striker if you’re building patient attacks around a stubborn opponent because his first touch can often be sporadic, but allow him space to run with the ball and he can certainly make things happen.
Even if he doesn’t make an impact on the Champions League, he’s an upgrade on at least two of Celtic’s current striker options and will score goals for fun in the Scottish Premiership. It’s still only February after all and you’d have to expect Celtic to entertain the possibility of going after another striker in the summer.
For The Player
His Wolves future has recently been in doubt since he’s dropped out of the starting eleven. It’s not very often a player loses his place at a club and goes to an even bigger one. That’s the strange nature British football deals with whenever the Old Firm go sniffing around a player outwith the elite clubs south of the border. English fans may wonder why he wouldn’t want to make a go of trying to bring Wolves all the way back up to the Premier League; Scottish fans think it’s a no-brainer that he would choice a team with almost automatic Champions League qualification over one that’s currently 45th in their current league structure.
There’s also the fact that he’ll be closer to home and this allows him increased access to the two children he fathered that were not with his current girlfriend.
Why It Doesn’t
For The Player
There aren’t many counter arguments to offer. Critics would argue that, from a Scotland standpoint, they’d wish he’d stayed down south and played against a higher calibre of opposition once Wolves won promotion back to the Championship. The Midlands club are big enough that they would immediately have aspirations of a quick top flight return and Griffiths could have been the man to fire them to the English Premier League club, performing at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge etc etc. It sounds fanciful but both Grant Holt and Ricky Lambert in recent seasons, so there is certainly a precedent.
Of course, such an argument would ignore the striker’s recent omission from the Wolves starting XI. Considering it started when the transfer window loomed, we could speculate that it had something to do with him wanting away, but we can’t know that for sure.
For The Club
While Kris Commons is clearly at the top of the pecking order as Celtic are concerned, behind him there’s not a lot to rely on when performing on the biggest stage. Anthony Stokes is good domestically but they’ll be concerned by his lack of goals this year, Georgios Samaras is enjoying a poor season by his recent standards and the better said about both Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde the better. Supporters wanted to sign someone who would immediately be recognised as being on Commons’s level. Instead they got someone who, on prior pedigree alone, is arguably bottom of the list we just went through. Of course, having watched him in the Premiership before, we know he’s a huge improvement on Pukki and Balde, and possibly even Samaras if this season is anything to go by. But they wanted a clear number two choice to Commons. Instead they might just have signed the next Anthony Stokes.
Speaking of whom, Celtic already have one player they cannot control when it comes to off-field problems. They may just have bought themselves another. Griffiths’s previous indiscretions include racially abusing a man on twitter, making gestures to both home and away fans, and being forcibly arrested by police for a shoplifting incident (though he was later found not guilty). Apart from Stokes’s attendance at an IRA member’s funeral, there isn’t a whole lot going on in terms of controversy surrounding Celtic right now. That will last only as long as the Old Firm are not in the same division. In two years time the raging fire will be lit once more. Griffiths may prove to be lighter fluid for such occasions. Although, we can’t even be sure the club would be bothered by that.