This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Neil Lennon has revealed he’s thankful he never brought Ryan Christie to Hibs last summer as part of a deal for John McGinn.
Lennon admitted to The Daily Record that he was desperate to bring Christie to Easter Road during his spell as boss of the capital side but is glad it never went through.
The deal would’ve seen the playmaker join his current boss at the Hibees with McGinn going in the other direction, yet he chose Aston Villa. This gave Christie a second chance at Parkhead, a chance he’s duly taken.
The former Inverness kid had a real breakthrough season at Celtic Park, becoming an important player for both Brendan Rodgers and Lennon, who got his wish of managing the 24-year-old after he joined Celtic in February.
Christie asserted himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet over his 38 appearances last season, scoring nine times and assisting a further 11 goals. The only disappointment for all involved was two unfortunate injuries preventing him from playing even more.
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In Lennon, Christie has a coach who clearly believes in him, given his transfer revelation, and he needs to capitalise on his breakthrough season by establishing himself alongside Scott Brown, James Forrest and Callum McGregor as the mainstays of the side.
It appears everything is falling into line for the former Aberdeen loanee too. He is fully fit, he has a manager enthralled by his talents, Tom Rogic could be leaving for Zenit, according to The Herald, and he’s started the season on fire.
Yes, it’s been against mediocre opposition that aren’t anything better than what they’ll face domestically but dominant displays against Nomme Kalju and Sarajevo could be a sign of things to come. His form in the Champions League qualifiers has been extraordinary, contributing to a goal every 50 minutes thus far.
Some have already tipped the 24-year-old for the Premier League, but another season at Parkhead where he earns the right to be in the same conversations as Brown, McGregor and Forrest will do him a world of good. Yet, if his form continues at the early-season rate he could be courted by some of Europe’s elite clubs very soon.