In an ideal world, both Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota will sign on the dotted line for Celtic in the summer.

Ange Postecoglou has left the finer details of those deals in the capable hands of CEO Michael Nicholson.

"It will take care of itself," the manager said when pressed on the matter back in February.

Celtic will likely have to splash out the guts of £12.5million to push both deals over the line if that is the case.

For many fans, it is the ultimate no-brainer. Or is it? Nothing is guaranteed in football, of course.

Of all the hyperbole and overreaction that accompanied Celtic's Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Rangers at Hampden on Sunday, there appeared another narrative.

Given the choice to sign Carter-Vickers or Jota - who would the Celtic fans choose? The answer remains both. However, when push comes to shove there is an argument to suggest that one of those players is winning the popularity contest hands down at the minute.

Perhaps surprisingly it is not the fleet-footed winger but the centre-back. Carter-Vickers.

Not since the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer were strutting their stuff at the heart of Celtic's defence have the men from Glasgow's east end felt secure with a real presence at the back of the pack. 

Well, domestically at least. Europe is for another day and Postecoglou will be well aware of that.

Celtic Way: Carter-Vickers scores the winner at IbroxCarter-Vickers scores the winner at Ibrox

Carter-Vickers has made 40 appearances for Celtic this season and chipped in with four goals. All of them have been crucial and none more so than his latest counter at Ibrox earlier this month when he struck a priceless winner in a 2-1 win that moved Postecoglou's men six points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Celtic now only have five games left to go in their bid to clinch the league flag - and the American has been a massive cog in the green and white defensive machine that's got them there.

The man nicknamed The Fridge has been coolness personified. Rock-solid, reliable, dependable, unflappable.

Six points have been dropped in six months. Only 19 goals have been conceded all season. Celtic are still unbeaten in their last 27 Scottish Premiership matches.

It is a small wonder Carter-Vickers is being tipped as the club's player of the year - he also tops our own Power Rankings.

In short, the eight-times capped USA international has proved his worth to the Celtic cause and there is a stark and massive difference between when he is and isn't in the team. He has improved the defence beyond recognition in a position that has traditionally been a problem for the Hoops to fill.

Former defender Alan Stubbs told us recently that the defensive duo of Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt reminded him of the 1997-98 partnership of Marc Riper and himself. That in itself is a huge compliment.

WATCH: Should Celtic keep Cameron Carter-Vickers or Jota and will VAR help?

As an aside, Celtic also won the League Cup and the title that season as well. Read into that what you will.

Now, to Jota.

The Portuguese quickly established himself as the darling of the fans with the initial reaction to his performances simply being to sign the 23-year-old 'yesterday'. He was at times unplayable earlier in the season. The wide man has netted 10 goals and 11 assists this season which is an impressive return.

On form, he is one of Scottish football's best players. A dynamic, direct footballer who is capable of scoring and assisting at will.

However, the current narrative surrounding the player who is available for a fee of £6.5million from Benfica on an option-to-buy deal has changed slightly.

Of the 10 goals, eight of them had come before the start of December, at which point he was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

He has not found the target in Celtic's last 13 games since a double against Aberdeen in a 3-2 win at Pittodrie in February. He has, admittedly, also had four assists since then too.

Some criticism levelled at the winger is that he has a greedy streak and thus isn't as much of a team player as you'd like, or that he has 'gone missing' in bigger games this season. Some of that may be due to the fact things just aren't coming off for him as they once were at this moment.

Those criticisms are harsh. What is fairer to say is that the on-loan Benfica man has struggled to find consistency since his injury lay-off.

It is easy to forget that this is Jota's first full season in top-level football and he did not play a lot for Benfica, or for Valladolid on his last loan spell, before he checked in at Celtic Park.

Celtic Way: Jota's last goal was at Pittodrie on February 9Jota's last goal was at Pittodrie on February 9

He has gone from playing around 700 to 800 minutes a season with Benfica and Valladolid the past two seasons to clocking almost 3,000 minutes for Celtic - the equivalent of around 32 full matches.

Jota's high bar and irresistible early-season form that he set were never going to be sustainable and a dip in form is possibly understandable. Like all wingers - including the others at Celtic - he has been prone to bouts of inconsistency.

But Celtic are indeed in a quandary this summer.

A lay-out of £12million or so would be considered a fantastic piece of business if it secures the two signings come the summer.

Carter-Vickers or Jota? It's still both. However, if it becomes a choice between one or the other, the club decision-makers should ask themselves these questions...

For £6million, could Celtic recruit a better central defender than Carter-Vickers? The answer is most probably no.

For £6.5million could Celtic recruit a better winger than Jota? The answer is yes.

Maybe the club and manager would take the view that his consistency levels and his residual value will only increase and that it is a gamble worth taking for the club in the long run. But ultimately there would be life without Jota. Kyogo, Maeda, Abada and Giorgos Giakoumakis will see to that. 

Yet it is the centre-back position that has been Celtic's Achilles heel in recent years and having Carter-Vickers in there has been integral to the club's success story this season so far.

Postecoglou is a shrewd operator and he will likely have planned for a season without both. But, at this juncture, Carter-Vickers is far too important to the way the team plays. He should be Celtic's priority.