A great servant to the club but there's no sentiment as Celtic near 9IAR
What can you say about Mikael Lustig that hasn’t already been said? The Swedish defender has been a great servant to Celtic since joining the club on a pre-contract in January 2012 and has been an integral part of not only Celtic’s eight titles in a row, but also the historic treble treble.
But after eight league titles, four Scottish Cups and four League Cups his time at the club is up - and while it will be tough to see Lustig leave Celtic Park there should not be any sentiment as Celtic close in on nine-titles-in-a-row.
Despite Celtic having the option to sign Lustig up to a one year extension to his existing contract, the leaked dossier from April showed that even back then the club had decided that this season would be Lustig’s last.
And in reality who can really blame them?
Last season, Lustig was well off the pace in many of the big games including in Europe and against Rangers. New Celtic manager Neil Lennon - while manager of Hibs - told his players that the Swede was the weak link in the Scottish Champions’ back four and that they should target him on the counter.
And yet Lennon reportedly wants Lustig to stay? Even as a back-up I think it would send the wrong message to the squad.
Celtic need a first team right back and they need a back up that is not a liability, we need two players in that position who will push each other and to fight for the jersey. Giving Lustig a new deal flies in the face of this and we cannot afford to have any passengers in the first team squad.
Unlike some other Celtic bloggers who believe a compromise should be made to find a place for Lustig, I differ from their stance. As Jock Stein once said, ‘the Celtic jersey does not shrink for inferior players’, and with the greatest respect to Lustig and what he has achieved in the green and white hoops of Celtic - he is no longer up to the task and the club must come first.
No amount of dance moves, pocket checks or coppers hats will change that.
He has seen off Cristian Gamboa, Jeremy Toljan, Saidy Janko, Darnell Fisher, Adam Matthews and to an extent Anthony Ralston - even just now he is ranked as Celtic’s best right back option - but Celtic and Neil Lennon must look to the future and to options that will improve Celtic defensively as well as in attack from the right back position. Lustig does not fit that bill.
He may be vastly experienced, but that will only get you so far both domestically and in Europe. If or should I say when Lustig bids Celtic adieu he will be celebrated, lauded and praised for the service he has given Celtic for over seven years.
But Celtic now need to upgrade their options and become more ruthless when it comes to their playing squad and those under performing as nine-in-a-row beckons.
Every player has a sell by date and sadly for Lustig his time is up at Celtic, the only issue I do have with the whole saga around Lustig and his contract situation is that the club should have made the player and the fans aware that the cup final would be his last game for the club. So that all parties could say a proper goodbye, rather than leaving it to a social media post.
Thank you for what you have given to the Celtic cause over the years Mikael, but it is now time to say goodbye.