Stepping into both the shoes and spotlight that Jota left behind at Celtic was always going to be a big ask for his successor, whoever it transpired to be.

With goals and assists aplenty, the Portuguese winger was a mainstay in proceedings at the club, providing a constant threat on whatever wing he was positioned, both on the left and the right. Despite having other wingers to contend with in the shape of Daizen Maeda, Liel Abada and Sead Haksabanovic, Jota was the consistent starter, with the others having to fight it out for the remaining spot in the team out wide.

Jota’s consistent offerings of goal contributions made him one of the poster boys of Ange Postecoglou’s free-flowing style of play, which unsurprisingly attracted potential suitors, one of them being Al-Ittihad of the Saudi Pro League. Alas, the riches of the Middle East were too tempting, and the club parted ways with their ‘superstar from Portugal’ for around £25 million, with Postecoglou himself leaving Celtic to join Tottenham Hotspur down south in the Premier League.

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This was all well and good in a financial sense but consistent double-digits in both goals and assists had to be replaced if Celtic were to maintain their strength in the wide areas, especially under the returning Brendan Rodgers.

Step forward Luis Palma, the Honduran international, who was signed from Aris FC in the Greek Super League on the last week of the transfer window. Known for his eye for a goal or assist himself, a lot of expectation was put on the 23-year-old’s shoulders to deliver on his predecessor’s promise of attacking prowess in his own game.

To say he has delivered would be an understatement, particularly over the last month or so. 12 appearances have fashioned a total of five goals and five assists, with Palma contributing both domestically and on the European stage.

Here, we take a look at some of the best moments from Palma’s first few months at his new club, as well as the assist that has seemingly got the whole of Honduras talking about their new star winger.

THAT Honduras assist vs Mexico

What better place to start than by talking about Palma’s biggest moment for Honduras so far? The winger stepped up to the plate for his homeland, assisting the first goal of the CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final first-leg against Mexico, which finished 2-0.

As shown above, Palma was in acres of space when the ball was distributed to him. A common feature of his game, he passed the ball into an area where his teammate could run into, in this case, Anthony Lozano of Getafe. Note the space that Mexico’s two central defenders have given Palma to word with regarding his chipped cross’ location, their spacing has allowed Palma to make his mind up quickly concerning where this ball is going.

The ball is a perfect one and finds Lozano, who takes a great first touch to control before chipping the Mexico goalkeeper. A splendid goal, written and illustrated by the accuracy and precision of Palma’s delivery.

Palma the provider

Of course, those who follow Celtic are well aware of Palma’s precision when it comes to delivering chances to his teammates. They were treated to a masterclass at Celtic Park where Palma had four goal involvements in the game, specifically three assists and one goal through the penalty spot. His final assist of the day was the pick of the bunch, though, and deserves to be heralded in all of its glory, in what was a performance for the ages from the Honduran.

Not for the first time on this particular day, Palma was going to assist a South Korean teammate of his. After a low cross found its way to Yang Hyun-jun in the first half, it was time for Oh Hyeon-gyu to get a taste of the action.

From the still above, you can see that two of Aberdeen’s players have been assigned to double-team Palma, who had been getting joy all day from Nicky Devlin in the opposition’s defence. As such, he and Ryan Duncan have elected to try and mark the tricky winger, though they are standing off him at this moment. Much like the Mexico defenders, Aberdeen standing off Palma was a risky game to play, given how potent his deliveries are into and around the box. Still, it was going to take something special from this position to bamboozle the Aberdeen back-line, who were set for whatever Palma had to throw at them. Unluckily for them, Palma has magic in those blue boots of his…

Having barely moved any closer to the goal, Palma decides to take the initiative and play a pacy cross with the outside of his foot. What the image cannot unfortunately demonstrate, or document is the gasp of the crowd that is heard from the highlights, as the Celtic supporters are in awe of what Palma has attempted and accomplished at lightning speed. The weight of the cross makes the delivery undefendable for Barry Robson’s defenders, which allows Oh to score possibly the easiest goal of his Celtic career thus far, though most of the plaudits again came the way of Palma for the assist. Judging by the quality of the delivery, it is easy to see why.

If ‘Assist of the Season’ was a real competition, then Palma would no doubt have quite a few nominations to his name by the end of the league campaign. He may have already won the hypothetical award at Tynecastle in last month’s 4-1 victory against Hearts for his involvement in Matt O’Riley’s opener.

Again, Palma had space to operate but found himself marked by Alan (brother of James) Forrest, who is also a winger. From this position, Hearts look safe and secure, as Palma is moving away from goal, despite the winger looking the favourite to get past his marker in Forrest. A couple of seconds later though, Hearts would be completely broken by two of Celtic’s mercurial talents this season…

Palma has beaten Forrest, who is looking to get back to defend what Palma is planning. It was too late, however, as Celtic’s number seven had made his move. Not unlike his assist against Mexico for Honduras, Palma identified an area for the oncoming O’Riley to manoeuvre into, with the Denmark midfielder happy to oblige with the direction and location of the cross. From this point on O’Riley did the rest, as he expertly finished past Zander Clark in the Hearts goal. Come the end of the season, it could well be these two goal contributors who are fighting it out for individual accolades in terms of seasonal awards, so it is good that they have a mutual understanding so early on in their time together.

Palma the predator

Assists are key for any winger playing for a top side, as they have to be looking to provide to the man or men that are situated in the middle of the box. However - and as prolific as Kyogo is - he cannot carry the can on his own when it comes to finishing chances. Luckily for the Japanese hitman, he has plenty of teammates who can ease the load for him in an attacking sense at the club.

One of these individuals is Palma, who has already scored five times for his new club. Adept from both close range and further out, he scored from the penalty spot against Aberdeen despite goalkeeper Kelle Roos going the right way. It was important to emphasise this, as it is the only example of him scoring inside of the box thus far this season!

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Indeed, Palma is a long-range specialist for Celtic this season, yet another weapon in the arsenal of Rodgers’ side moving forward. This has been observed domestically on quite a few occasions already, though perhaps most impressively up north at Dingwall against Ross County. Having been brought off the bench minutes before, Palma was in the mood to put on a show. With that in mind, there was no doubt as to who scored the best goal that afternoon…

From the still above, Palma was signalling for the ball to be played to his feet, and McGregor was happy to oblige him with that request. In perhaps a more unusual position than he is used to situating, the winger had moved into a central position, not unlike the sorts of areas that the likes of O’Riley, David Turnbull or Odin Thiago Holm would take up. This confidence in asking for the ball to be dispatched to his location demonstrates a willingness to take the initiative in games, which bodes well for the future of both the player and club respectively.

A couple of frames later, and Palma has space to work a shot. Setting himself with a couple of touches to get his positioning in order, he strikes the ball with a mixture of force, dip and accuracy, leaving the impressive Ross Laidlaw with no chance in the home side’s goal. With a thunderous effort, the ball loops up and then back down as it rifles into the net, sending the visiting crowd into hysteria just behind Laidlaw’s goal. A tremendous strike from a player who has acclimatised tremendously to the Scottish game, though he has taken his talents to the European stage also…

If it was not for VAR’s intervention a couple of weeks prior, this would have been his second European goal in as many games for Celtic in the Champions League. However, patience is certainly a virtue, and Palma’s patience paid off in a big way against Atletico Madrid.

Following good work down the wing from Palma’s opposite wing-man in Maeda, the Japan international plays a tentative ball across the face of the goal, which yields no takers. The cross kindly finds Palma on the other side, who takes a touch to steady himself. A busy box lies just in front of the winger, who has a lot of work to do to make anything from this chance…

This was the moment that truly sparked Palma’s Celtic career into prominence. After taking the touch, he unleashes a shot not dissimilar to Kieran Tierney’s effort against RB Leipzig a few seasons prior. Nutmegging the Atletico Madrid defender with his strike, it rifles onto the far post before hitting the back of the net, causing Celtic Park to explode with noise in the process. It had to be perfect, given the quality of goalkeeping opposition Celtic were facing in the form of Slovenian stalwart Jan Oblak, though he had no chance with either goal on the night.


Jota leaving the club was always going to be a big miss, regardless of who was signed to directly replace him in Celtic’s starting line-up. His on-field magic – mixed with his enthusiasm and keenness to get involved with matters off of it – were always going to leave big holes when he departed for richer pastures further afield.

Despite recent calls for the out-of-favour winger to return to the club, his replacement in Palma has done more than enough to convince most that it is his place to lose as Celtic’s top winger at the club. With the winger turning 24 next year, Celtic have the Honduran right where they want him at the right time in his career, with his trajectory very much on the up in the coming years.

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If he can keep this promising early form going, then who knows what sort of numbers Palma can accumulate concerning goals and assists by the end of this season. If that number is high, then the vultures may swirl again on yet another of Celtic’s wide options. The club can deal with that if and when it arises in the future.

For now, though, Palma is comfortably the club’s best attacking option outwith Kyogo. Now a star for his country, he will be looking to consolidate his emergence further in the weeks and months ahead, as Celtic go into a busy schedule of games over the winter months. It is up to Palma to bring some of that Honduran heat to matters during the festive season.