Manchester City misfit in line to become new Henrik Larsson at Celtic
Henrik Larsson’s status as a Celtic legend remains unimpeachable but, in John Guidetti, Celtic have a striker with the ability to not only match his fellow Swede but potentially go one better – starting by claiming the Scottish Premiership top-scorer crown in his debut season.
With both hailing from a select corner of Scandinavia, some would argue that it would be daft to draw many in the way of comparisons between the pair – but they would be wrong.
Larsson came to Parkhead following an impressive but ultimately frustrating spell in Holland with Feyenoord, where regular upheaval in the management of the Eredivisie giants left the striker unsettled.
Slow to start during his debut campaign, Larsson hit top form for Feyenoord in the 1994-95 season – just after impressing for Sweden at the World Cup – scoring 16 goals in all competitions.
And while the subsequent year saw him add a further 12 goals to his tally for the club, he was often played out of position, rarely gaining the game time required to shine as out-and-out goalscorer.
The following campaign saw Larsson lose patience, forcing through a move to Celtic that ultimately proved to be the making of the forward.
Top scorer in Scotland for five of the seven seasons he spent with the Bhoys, Larsson’s story could yet be replicated by Guidetti.
Like the Hoops hero, Guidetti arrived following a frustrating spell elsewhere with Manchester City where, despite impressing as a youngster, he was rarely given the opportunity to shine in his preferred role as a traditional striker.
Deployed as a forward during a season in Holland with Feyenoord, where a return of 20 goals in 23 games outstripped even Larsson’s efforts, a loan spell with Stoke saw the striker once again frustrated, with manager Mark Hughes deploying Guidetti sparingly on the wing.
As with Larsson at Feyenoord, the managerial upheaval at the Etihad worked against Guidetti, with many of the coaches that first identified the potential of the Swede coming and going over the years.
And like the ex-Barcelona man, Guidetti soon lost patience forcing through a loan move to Celtic that was only finalised after the close of the summer transfer window.
Larsson managed 16 top-flight goals in 35 appearances for Celtic during his debut season in Glasgow, some way off the top scorer that season, Marco Negri, who managed 32 goals for Rangers.
But with the Gers toiling away in the Scottish Championship at present, Guidetti is well on course to top the scoring charts and go one better than the Swedish legend in his debut season, netting six in just nine league outings.
Having built up his fitness following a spell on the sidelines at City, the scary thought is that Guidetti may not have even hit top gear yet, having scored nine in his last eight competitive appearances.
And with Larsson hitting 29 goals in his second season with Celtic, the Bhoys would do well to make sure they keep hold of the 22-year-old this summer, with the striker available on a free following the conclusion of his Manchester City contract.
The Hoops’ future may just depend on it.
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