CELTIC have made an immediate impression on this summer’s transfer window but there is just one incoming name that former Parkhead midfielder Stiliyan Petrov is waiting to hear.

The protracted nature of the Jota situation is close to being identified as the cure for insomniacs desperate for a wink of sleep such is the weary nature of daily updates which tend to be little more than a recycling of old news. 

Still, securing the Portuguese winger on a permanent deal after his pivotal contribution last season as Ange Postecoglou’s side wrestled the title from Rangers would be a serious statement of intent, according to Petrov. 

Celtic have already agreed deals with defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist with a move for Argentinian full-back Alexandro Bernabei believed to be imminent. Like every other Celtic fan, though, it is Jota whom Petrov wishes to see posing with a scarf above his head.  

“I believe it’s a must for Celtic to get Jota,” he said. “What he brings is excitement around Celtic Park and not many clubs have the pleasure to have a player like that. He plays with a smile on his face, he takes people on, he’s aggressive and has urgency. 

“When you have someone like that, you have to push to keep him. I know there would be interest from everywhere, but, if you are Celtic, you have to push to keep these players because these are the ones that everyone follows. It seemed like last season, every time he was on the pitch, everybody followed him because they know he can produce.

“If you don’t have him, you are going to get weaker.  Even if you get someone else, it is going to take time to adapt to what the manager wants because the manager plays a different way with his demands. When you have a manager like that, you need players who are comfortable.” 

While Jota has been unperturbed by the hullaballo which has surrounded him this summer if his Instagram pictures of various jaunts across the globe are anything to go by. Given that the chatter around a permanent deal has been the backdrop to his association with Celtic since January it is little wonder that he has been able to turn down the volume on it as Benfica and Celtic have discussed the minutiae of the deal. 

Certainly though, it makes sense to sign a player whose worth has been proven rather than integrate a new player into Postecoglou’s system.  

“They can go to other players but he understands the philosophy of how they play, what the demands are from the manager,” he said.  

“To bring in another wide player who doesn’t know the demands and the little details on the style of play, that would be difficult. He certainly made a difference last season for Celtic. He was probably involved in 60% of the goals.  

“He was scoring goals, he was creating goals. He makes the difference in the final third and that’s where you want the difference to be made. He is one of those players, he has an important part and I hope that can be resolved quickly. 

“He was [Celtic’s best player] and that is why we are talking about him now. He raised the bar for himself. With a full season next season, he’ll be even better because he’ll be fitter and stronger.” 

With Champions League football causing much excitement this summer as Celtic avoid the torturous qualifying rounds, Petrov expects that there needs to be continual evolution and growth within the squad in order that they can compete on both a domestic and European front. 

“It looks like they are doing their business early and when they bring someone in they will suit the system and the style of play,” he said.  “I think they are still short of three or four players for the Champions League. 

“I believe that’s what the aim will be next season – to establish the club in European football. Next season will be about how they are going to produce in Europe rather than domestically. 

“I’m impressed with how he’s [Postecoglou] gone about his business. When you compete at a domestic level and move up to European level, you need players who can play with that intensity. It seems like the manager demands that intensity in every single game. 

“To do that, you’ll need a huge squad of players. They need to be a similar type of player as well so if you take one out and bring one in you don’t feel a difference. There has to be a process where you are always adding players in the right positions. 

“In midfield, he will definitely need more players especially with Tom Rogic going away and what he brought in European football. You won’t have his experience in the Champions League. That’s why I think they’ll probably need somebody else and in the wider areas as well as that’s how he likes to play.” 

Despite the significant financial benefits that come via the group stages of the Champions League, Celtic were reminded in their recent forays into it that there is no such thing as a free lunch after wounding defeats to PSG and Barcelona. Petrov anticipates that Postecoglou will relish the chance to pit his tactical wits against some of Europe’s most prestigious names and test himself in the most exacting of tournaments. 

“He knows what he has to do domestically, but in Europe, he has to make sure he can get it right because the fans will be asking the question and he will be asking the question of himself,” he said. “It looks like he’s a manager who challenges himself. Who asks questions of himself if he doesn’t do well, so this is going to be his priority. To make sure Celtic do well in Europe.”