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Murdo MacLeod urges Celtic to break the bank for a proven goalscorer this summer

Odsonne Edouard is currently Celtic's record signing
Odsonne Edouard is currently Celtic's record signing

Murdo MacLeod reckons Celtic face the biggest rebuild the club has ever had.

And he has urged them to break their transfer record if the right striker becomes available.

At the moment, the Parkhead club’s most-expensive buy is the £8.5 million they paid for Odsonne Edoaurd from PSG. The Frenchman is expected to be sold this summer.

Albian Ajeti doesn’t appear to be the man to deliver 25 goals a season and Leigh Griffiths also has an uncertain future at the Hoops.

MacLeod feels the priority for the new Celtic boss is to find a hitman who can fire them to title glory and bring the SPFL Premiership back from Rangers.

But the Hoops legend is aware that trying to sign 10 or 11 new players of quality is a massive ask.

And he should know. MacLeod was part of a major overhaul of the playing squad back in 1997 when they signed several players and went on to stop Gers from doing 10-in-a-row.

© SNS Group
Wim Jansen and Murdo MacLeod celebrate with the Premier Division trophy after halting Rangers 10-in-a-row dreams in 1998

MacLeod told The Sunday Post: “The new manager will need to hit the ground running and so will his staff.

“Bringing in new players will top his list of priorities and there is an urgent need to find a striker who is going to get you at least 25 goals a season.

“Going back to when I played for the club more than 40 years ago we had guys such as Charlie Nicholas, Brian McClair and Mo Johnston.

“Since then there has been Andy Walker, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Jorge Cadete, John Hartson, Chris Sutton, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, Scott McDonald, Gary Hooper and Moussa Dembele.

“They all scored goals for fun.

“Of course, I’ve not forgotten about Henrik Larsson. He was sensational. He was part of the rebuild in 1997 and went on to score nearly 250 goals for Celtic in seven years. It shows the importance of having a dependable striker.

“Odsonne Edouard has been very good for Celtic in the past three years but he wasn’t as hot as everyone at Celtic wanted him to be in the past nine months.

“I think the team still created plenty of chances but the players just weren’t as lethal as they’d been previously. Points were dropped by missing chances.

“In the past seven or eight years Celtic brought in a number of strikers that cost around about the £2m mark.

“One or two of them were very good but too many of them didn’t hold up.

“That’s why they need to get it right this summer and if that means breaking their transfer record then that’s what they have to do.

“But I know that is easier said than done. It’s up to the manager and his scouting staff to source someone out of the top drawer.”

Right now, MacLeod is as concerned as any Celtic supporter about not having a permanent replacement for Neil Lennon in the building.

It all points to Eddie Howe getting the job and there is an urgency to get him as quickly as possible.

MacLeod recalls a very similar scenario 24 years ago when he was brought in as reserve team boss, but was then put in charge of the first team for pre-season until a replacement for Tommy Burns was found.

Wim Jansen was the man to succeed Burns and he didn’t put pen to paper on his contract until July 3.

Celts were already in pre-season training camp in Holland and MacLeod said: “All of a sudden I found myself taking the first team. It was unexpected but I had to do it and I was proud to do it.

“We had lost the likes of Pierre van Hooijdonk and were in the process of losing Jorge Cadete and Paolo di Canio.

“That was about 50 goals a season taken away.

“On top of that, club legend Paul McStay had to retire from the game that summer.

“Paul was a fantastic footballer. I was in the team when he made his debut back in the early ’80s. It was a massive blow to have lost someone of his stature.”

Parallels are there with this time round as the Hoops are once again losing their inspirational skipper, with Scott Brown moving on to Aberdeen in a player/coach role.

“Peter Grant was also moving on. It’s never easy to replace men of such experience,” admitted MacLeod.

“I can remember looking around at training and thinking, ‘My goodness, how are we going to stop 10-in-a-row’ because we were short of depth and short on quality.

“Wim then came in as manager and we sat with Davie Hay, our chief scout, and looked at players we wanted to sign.

“The likes of Marc Rieper and Craig Burley were on the list. But Wim had one name that he urged the cub to get and that was Henrik.

“Well, we all know the rest of that story. What a signing he turned out to be for just £650,000.

“The club signed eight or nine new players from Stephane Mahe to Darren Jackson, Johnny Gould to Regi Blinker. Paul Lambert and Harald Brattbakk came in during the season and played significant roles.

“We went on to stop Rangers from winning the 10 and it has to be one of the greatest seasons in the history of Celtic.

“The club wanted to do its own ‘10’ this season but it fell short.

“It’s now a case of putting this unfortunate campaign to bed. It’s time to move on. Nothing will be achieved by letting it linger.

“The focus must be on getting the new manager in and then finding good operators to fill the other key roles.

“The Celtic supporters are feeling hurt and down but they can be lifted again by signing some exciting talent.

“Celtic is a massive football club and there will be dozens of top players ready to play for them.

“It’s about all the new signings gelling and then getting off to a good start.

“Everyone at the club needs to let Rangers know that they are not going to get it all their own way in the new season.”