Kris Commons reckons his former Celtic team-mate Leigh Griffiths is “damaged goods” nowadays after the striker was cut loose by the Parkhead outfit, despite having six months left on his year-long contract extension.
The 31-year-old, who was shipped out on a season-long loan to Dundee at the start of the season, has struggled to make an impact at Dens Park and now looks to have played his last game for the Hoops.
Manager Ange Postecoglou has opted to trigger an early release for the ex-Scotland international after the Australian made it clear Griffiths would not be part of his first-team plans going forward.
It is believed the main reason behind Griffiths’ departure is down to him becoming an “unwanted distraction” if he were to return to Glasgow due to the off-field issues he has suffered in recent years.
Dark Blues boss James McPake also wants to sever ties with Griffiths, but reports suggest he is likely to remain at Dundee until the end of the campaign, albeit on “reduced terms”.
Commons, who played alongside Griffiths at Celtic Park between 2014 and 2016, insists successive managers can’t all be wrong when it comes to assessing Griffiths’ lack of professionalism.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he said: “In Leigh Griffiths’ case, you’re now looking at every person he’s worked under over the past seven or so years stating that he’s not behaved like a professional. I’m sorry, but they can’t all be wrong.
“We’ve had Ronny Deila, Neil Lennon, Brendan Rodgers and Steve Clarke saying it. Now Ange Postecoglou and James McPake are reading off the same script.
“Leigh is 31 now. I was about his age when I had my best season in football and won Player of the Year. Instead, he is damaged goods.
“Listen, you’ve got to have huge sympathy for anyone who has endured the kind of mental health issues he’s had. He went through hell.
“But you can’t use that as an excuse for all the fitness problems and injuries he’s suffered for so long. It points to something else behind the scenes as to why it’s not happening for him as a professional footballer.”
Griffiths, who has netted over a century of goals during his eight-year stay at Parkhead, etched his name into Scotland folklore, courtesy of his stunning brace of free-kicks against England in 2017.
Since then, the former Hibs and Wolves frontman has had little to cheer about and Commons added: “The fall from grace from him scoring those two goals for Scotland against England to where he is now is just remarkable.
“It’s not down to bad form and not scoring. It’s purely down to a lack of application Monday to Friday. He now can’t get into a team. And, on the rare occasion he is, he’s just not scoring goals.
“I shared a dressing room with him and I was close with him - but not to the extent that I knew everything he was up to the minute he left Lennoxtown.
“He was the sort of guy who’d walk on to a training ground without any warm-up and start blasting balls into the net. He loved scoring goals. And as long as he was doing that in a game, it was hard to pick fault.”
Despite his loss of form and fitness, Commons believes Griffiths still has something to offer and he pointed to former Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon, as the perfect example for him to follow.
He admitted: “What’s beyond argument is that he has achieved a lot in football. He’s in the top 20 of Celtic’s all-time goalscorers. He’s won loads of trophies. He scored those two iconic free-kicks for his country.
“He was quick, his movement was good, he was exceptional in the air for quite a small guy. He was physical, was lethal on free-kicks, he could finish and he knew how to roll his sleeves up. He also had supreme confidence in his own ability.
“But it could have amounted to so much more. He should be in the peak of his career. Yet it feels like he’s had more lives than a cat and they’ve now run out.
“No matter what anyone says, I don’t feel it’s too late for him to still do something, even if that’s not going to be at Celtic or Dundee.
“Look at Craig Gordon - two years out of the game and considering a career in punditry. Since then he’s won an unbeaten Treble at Celtic, been outstanding for Hearts for two seasons and could play in a World Cup just before his 40th birthday.
“Leigh could still have three years at the top level if he applies himself. The problem is that it’s no longer just about his talent. Managers now feel that they can’t rely on him.”
Meanwhile, Celtic goalkeeper Scott Bain has signed a contract extension at Parkhead, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2024.
The 30-year-old joined the Hoops initially on loan from Dundee in January 2018 before making the move permanently.
Bain has since made 74 appearances for Celtic, helping his team-mates win a League Cup and Scottish Cup double during the 2018/19 season, which sealed the club’s Treble Treble success.
He told the club’s website: “I am delighted to agree this new contract extension. It is a privilege to be part of this great club and I am so pleased to extend my future at Celtic.
“We have already had success under the new manager, it is fantastic working with him and the rest of our backroom team, and I want to join them and the other players at the club in working hard to achieve more and more success for our fans.”