By Noel Whelan

3rd Jul, 2021 | 1:00pm

Pundit tips Celtic to close gap to Rangers after 'world-class' Griffiths news

Noel Whelan has tipped Leigh Griffiths to fire Celtic a lot closer to Rangers next season after signing a new contract.

The former Aberdeen hitman, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Bhoys “could not afford” to lose the “world-class” 30-year-old on a free.

Celtic confirmed on Thursday (July 1st) Griffiths had agreed to sign a one-year contract extension at Parkhead.

The Scotland international, who was set to be out of contract this summer, said he was “delighted” to commit to another season with the Bhoys.

Griffiths struggled for fitness and game time under former manager Neil Lennon last season.

However, Whelan suggested he would play a crucial role in challenging Celtic next term.

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Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge: “I think due to his age as well, a one-year contract is about right.

“I don’t think he needs to prove too much. His goalscoring record tells it all. I don’t think you can really afford to let him go on a free contract because I think you need these sort of players.

“He’s been there for a while, he’s going to help the manager out, that’s for sure, and he’s a natural goal scorer.

“If you’re going to be successful in the league, you know you need to hold on to these kinds of players.

“Rather than coming in the door and letting go some of the more established and experienced players, you’re going to need them over the course of the season.

“There’s no better goal scorer than Leigh Griffiths.

“If you can get him firing then you’ve got a real top, world-class striker on your hands that could really help you challenge Rangers harder than they did last year.”

In other news, Celtic told to bin 142-appearance star after exit reveal.