CHRIS Sutton has hailed the potential impact of Nadir Ciftci at Celtic and believes the Turkish striker’s much-debated temperament can prove a help, rather than a hindrance, to his prospects of success at the club.
Ciftci made a bright start to life in Celtic colours with an eye-catching late substitute outing in last Friday night’s 1-0 friendly win over Real Sociedad in Paisley.
The 23-year-old is now in contention for a starting place as he gets ready for his competitive debut in tomorrow night’s Champions League second qualifying round, first leg meeting with Icelandic side Stjarnan at Celtic Park.
Former Celtic star Sutton, now BT Sport’s football analyst, feels his old club have made a shrewd investment with their £1.5 million capture of Ciftci from Dundee United – regardless of the outcome of next Monday’s SFA disciplinary hearing into allegedly biting Jim McAlister on the leg during the Dundee derby in May.
“I really like him,” said Sutton. “People talk about his temperament, but we have all made mistakes. He’s a young player and I like him as a footballer first and foremost. He is a different type for Celtic. He uses his body particularly well, he can link up the play and can score some outstanding goals.
“He will develop. It’s a big opportunity for him. But for £1.5 million, I think that’s a really good piece of business from Celtic. If you look throughout Britain, who could you sign with a pedigree for £10m or £15m who could guarantee you goals? He has to mature as a player and I am sure he will do. He has to control himself because Celtic would be much worse off if they go down to ten men. This is a big opportunity for him but I don’t think he’s daft.
“I like players who have fire in their belly and he just needs to control that. There are going to be times when he does overstep the mark. I look back over the course of time to players I played with – big John Hartson, Neil Lennon and Craig Bellamy were all players who without that edge would have been lesser players.
“Ciftci is that type and it may be a bit of a ride at times for him at Celtic but more importantly it’s about what he can bring to Celtic with his attributes.”
Ciftci has shown no lack of confidence by securing the No 7 shirt at Celtic which was most prolifically worn by Sutton’s former strike partner Henrik Larsson.
“It is a big shirt to take but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t take it,” added Sutton. “You are at a big club and you want to make a name for yourself. So why not come with that kind of confidence and give it a go? He’s still got a lot to prove in the game. He’s had tough times, scraping around down in England at Portsmouth before going to Dundee United.
“Fair play to him, he has shown a lot of fight to get into this position. He has earned the right. He did particularly well for Dundee United.
“I think Ciftci has good enough attributes as a player to realise his potential. You don’t want a player coming in to Celtic who hides during games and he doesn’t seem the type to do that.”