Celtic cult hero Chris Sutton has questioned Neil Lennon’s decision to let Jonny Hayes leave Parkhead on a free transfer, in his Daily Record column.
The Irishman joined Celtic from Aberdeen in 2017 and played 68 times for the Bhoys, scoring two goals and registering seven assists in a stint which also saw him battle back from a leg break.
One of the 32-year-old winger’s two goals in the green and white hoops was his late strike on the counter to break Rangers hearts on their own patch in Celtic’s 2-0 win at Ibrox back in September.
However, Hayes was not offered a new Celtic contract and the club confirmed at the end of May that he would be on his way out of Parkhead.
“Hayes (leaving), in particular, struck me as a strange one,” Sutton wrote in the Daily Record. “I’m a fan of his as a squad player. He was always ready and willing when called upon and did a good job for Lennon whenever asked.
“The key thing about Hayes is he could do that job in three positions… Hayes was steady away, but if you think back to a game such as Hamilton away last season when Celtic were toiling at 1-1 against 10 men when he came on, he could impact enough and make a huge difference to help win the game.
“I don’t profess to knowing his contract situation, but there’s no way he was one of the club’s big earners, so with costs not so high and an ability to cover a variety of positions, it doesn’t make sense to me he’s gone.”
While Hayes sometimes came under flak from sections of the Celtic fanbase, there’s no denying he was a decent, hard-working option for Lennon.
He was always professional and always put in 100 percent, and his exit prompted a number of Bhoys supporters on social media to wonder whether it was the right call.
It will be interesting what the Hoops boss decides to do in terms of the left-back and left wing-back positions, as Hayes’ departure has left the Bhoys fairly weak in that position.