herald

Monday 15 October 2018

Boyata still one of the Bhoys

Champions League Celtic v AEK Athens (Celtic Park, KO 7.45)

Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata has been linked with a move to Fulham
Celtic’s Dedryck Boyata has been linked with a move to Fulham

Boss Brendan Rodgers anticipates the Celtic board rejecting any bid for Dedryck Boyata.

The Northern Irishman confirmed that Fulham's offer for the 27-year-old Belgium defender had been knocked back, with the fee reported as £9million.

While the London club could be ready to return with more money before the English transfer window closes tomorrow, the Hoops manager - while mindful of the business aspect of big money possibly coming in for a player in the last year of his contract - is keen to keep Boyata.

Rodgers, who revealed French midfielder Olivier Ntcham has shaken off an Achilles problem ahead of their Champions League third qualifying round first leg against AEK Athens at Parkhead tonight, said: "Yes, we have had a few enquiries and there was a confirmed bid by Fulham for him.

"He is a player that we don't want to lose. We know he is in the last year of his deal.

"He has been a fantastic player for me in my time here, he had an excellent World Cup when he played.

"He is clearly a player of value and at this point in time for us he is very important and so the club rejected that.

Replacement

"At this stage it would be pretty difficult for us to sell him because there is not a replacement there.

"If you lose someone of that quality then the very least you need to have is someone of similar quality coming in and that is not the case at this moment.

"From the business side of the football, we need to make that work. But from a the football perspective we don't need to sell any players. We have had two seasons of Champions League football and the club being on a high.

"I would anticipate that anything that would come in would be rejected."

The Parkhead club have reportedly had three bids rejected for Hibernian midfielder John McGinn.

However, despite the Scotland international reportedly being at Aston Villa's training ground yesterday for talks, Rodgers insists his interest has not ended but acknowledged the door has been left open for other clubs.

He said: "He is a player that we clearly wanted to bring here. I was really interested in bringing him in from a few months back.

"We haven't been able to complete a deal and when of course when you don't complete a deal on a player it always opens the door for other teams - a club like Aston Villa, who have clearly interest in him, who have a big history of their own, a great club with excellent facilities and now financial backing.

"So we have to wait and see on that one." After dispensing with Armenian side Alashkert and Norwegian outfit Rosenborg in earlier qualifiers, Rodgers believes Greek champions AEK Athens represents "another step up".

He said: "They are obviously champions of their country so that always makes them a tough opponent, because they have that winning mentality. They look a Champions League team to me.

"We know we can give them problems but we know it will be a real examination over two legs.

"If we can get a win with a clean sheet that will be a great result for us."

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