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I don’t think so- Chris Sutton issues Jota warning to Brendan Rodgers

Chris Sutton will make his Sky Sports debut on Saturday but it is how Celtic replace Jota that will be his focus in the season opener against Ross County.

Transfer activity to date has been light with Maik Nawrocki a clear contender for a place in central defence with four other arrivals in the prospects/project category.

Rodgers will be hoping that at least one out of Odin Thiago Holm, Yang Hyun-jun, Kwon Hyeok-kyu and Marco Tilio come good but none of them arrive on a £6m price tag with Benfica prominent on their CV.

It is difficult to define Jota’s Celtic role but match winner and game changer would be prominent, qualities that are difficult to replace even when you have banked around £18m from his transfer to Al Ittiad.

Last season on duty with BT Sport, Sutton watched Jota score away to Real Madrid and RB Leipzig which is the level that Rodgers and his squad will be judged at in the season ahead.

In truth Celtic have had very few Champions League standard players down the years, those memorable results have been the results of inspired team performances topped off by moments of magic from players such as Scott McDonald, Shunsuke Nakamura, Tony Watt and Massimo Donati.

Rodgers is expected to maintain Celtic’s dominance of the Scottish game as well as making strides into Europe.

Without Jota and Aaron Mooy the hoops are clearly weakened but in Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley and Reo Hatate the ‘new’ boss has a couple of players that could rise to the occasion when the big European nights come around in the autumn.

Reviewing events at his old club, Sutton told The Sun:

With Brendan coming back in, I thought he was brave to take the job, there was a lot made about him coming back because of the way he left.

It would’ve been an easier option for him not to come back. I didn’t think with coming back he wouldn’t want to leave anything to chance.

I’m not saying he is leaving anything to chance, but in terms of the transfers, I was in agreement with the notion that Celtic would’ve maybe gone a little bit stronger at this point in the transfer window.

But who knows what there is to come. Can they replace Jota? That’s the aim. Do they have a like-for-like replacement for him? I don’t think they do.

So, in that respect, could you argue that that they are weaker? Well, maybe in that particular position but there’s still time for him to bring other players in.

Jota’s a massive loss but I think Abada’s a really interesting one this season for Celtic. Maybe he’ll feel he has a point to prove.

In the second half of last season most of the transfer speculation was about Abada leaving, in the main part he had been relegated to first substitute status with Daizen Maeda and Jota the first picks.

So far in pre-season Abada has looked exceptional, drawing on two years experience at the sharp end of Scottish football with the demands of Celtic to call on.

The Israeli internationalist won’t be 22 until the start of October but the early signs are that he’ll be a starter under Rodgers with Maeda perhaps having a change of role, there could be two main strikers used with the attacking options open to Rodgers.

The first month of fixtures could hardly have been more demanding for a new manager, Rodgers won’t be given the allowances Ange Postecoglou had in 2021 but the returning boss is spoiled for choice in many areas whereas his predecessor was cobbling a side together while trying to get a tune out of players like Ismaila Soro and Albian Ajeti with his most significant transfer business coming on the last day of the summer widow when Jota, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Giorgos Giakoumakis were signed up.

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