Outstanding Christie reminds Celtic just how important it is that he stays at Parkhead this summer
The 26-year-old is facing an uncertain future at Parkhead.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has made his stance on Ryan Christie’s current situation abundantly clear.
The Scotland international is ultimately faced with two options heading into the latter stages of the transfer window – either he pens the shiny new deal that has been slapped down on the table in front of him at Parkhead and stays put, or he packs his haversack and ventures south to roll his dice in the bright lights of the Premier League before his contract expires in January and the Hoops lose him for nothing. Both Burnley and Crystal Palace have been credited with interests in recent weeks.
Unsurprisingly, his boss would much prefer if he opted to do the former, although he has conceded that the decision is Christie’s and Christie’s alone to make.
Speaking after the weekend’s 6-0 demolition of Dundee, the Australian said: “I don’t think I need to twist his arm. I’ve already said that if this [offer of a new deal] doesn’t convince him, I don’t think anything can.
“I think they are more questions for Ryan than me. I’d love to have him as part of the club.
“All I can do is treat people as I have seen them, and he has been fantastic from the moment I’ve come into the place.
“With the way he’s training and the way he’s playing his football, he’s a fantastic footballer and he suits the way I want to play.
“But I’m not the master of his future, that’s in his hands.”
And if there were any lingering doubts over whether or not Christie is worth kicking up such a fuss over, his hat-trick of assists on Sunday afternoon should have put pay to them.
In an imperiously creative display, the 26-year-old pulled strings and carved out chances like a marionettist with a side hustle in butchery. A paradigm of selflessness and canny artistry, the Scot not only created three goals, but also registered a monumental EIGHT key passes.
Just to contextualise that figure a little further, Kevin De Bruyne, playmaker extraordinaire, managed 3.2 per 90 minutes for Manchester City last season.
There are sparkling, shining displays and then there a blinding, luminescent showings that cast great, hulking shadows over just about everything else. Christie’s was most certainly an example of the latter.
In fact, were it not for Kyogo Furuhashi’s stunning hat-trick of strikes, the vast majority of the post-match rhetoric probably would have been laser-focused in on the Scot.
One of the key traits that Postecoglou highlighted in his praise of Christie after the final whistle was the midfielder’s versatility. Operating out on the left flank on Sunday, as opposed to through the middle, he ran Dundee ragged.
It’s no coincidence that two of his three assists came from just inside the box on that side of the pitch, and his lay-on for Furuhashi’s second in the 25th minute was a superb illustration of the bustling ruthlessness that the Scot can offer.
Christie picks up the ball high and wide on the left before showing his full-back a clean pair of heels and threading an inch-perfect pass into that awkward channel between goalkeeper and centre-half.
Once he makes the initial dash, there’s no defending against that kind of incisive play. Over the course of his 94 minute appearance, Christie completed 87% of his passes and 60% of his attempted dribbles – both marked improvements on his averages from last season.
And it was Christie’s distributional prowess that really caused the damage.
His assist for Furuhashi’s third after the interval was a moment of aching beauty, a vision realised with masterful execution.
Dropping inside, the midfielder picked up the ball in a slightly deeper position, got his head up, and proceeded to cut four Dundee defenders out of the game with a perfectly weighted pass.
Spotting the Japanese international’s movement was one thing, but to then slide a ball through the gap between the two centre-backs without giving the keeper a chance of stifling the move is another entirely.
Again, this was a hallmark of a talent oozing with class and composure, and these are the kind of figures that Celtic need around the place if they are dethrone Rangers this season.
In short, champions can’t afford to let their best players leave. Runners-up with wounds to heal and bitter city rivals to chase down definitely can’t afford to let their best players leave – especially for the £5 million or so that some reports are suggesting Christie could go for.
Of course, as Postecoglou himself has stated, the decision isn’t his to make. If it was, you can be sure that the midfielder would already have a pen in his hand and a scarf pic on the club’s official Twitter account.
But Sunday’s superlative showing was a timely reminder of just how much is at stake for the Hoops when we discuss Christie’s future.
Whatever the offer on the table is, however hard the club are pushing to convince him to stay, last weekend’s barnstormer proves that they need to go all out to get him to sign because losing him would be a real hammer blow.