Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said that Virgil van Dijk deserved FIFA’s Best Player of the Year award ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi based on the domestic and European performances last term. The Dutch defender helped Liverpool preserve the best defence across Europe’s top-five leagues last season and he was able to end the campaign on a high with the Reds winning the Champions League.
As such, the Netherlands international was recently presented with the UEFA Player of the Year award and he could not dislodge Messi in the race for FIFA’s individual accolade. Speaking to reporters, Lennon said that Messi’s record cannot be ignored, considering the Argentine has been constantly scoring loads of goals for the Blaugrana.
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Belgium international Dedryck Boyata has said that he did not go on strike to force through an exit from Celtic last summer. The centre-back spent four years with the Scottish champions but he left them on a free transfer at the end of last season after opting against signing a new contract with the club.
Boyata has since signed for Hertha in the Bundesliga and he has now clarified that he wanted a fresh challenge away from the Hoops. Speaking to Record Sport, he told: “It’s not true, I was accused of strikes last summer so I could move. I also played through the season, was in the Scottish team of the year and played my part in the title. The truth is, I’ve won everything at Celtic in four years. But it was time to start something new.”
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Scottish champions Celtic have admitted that they were helpless in their attempt to keep hold of Kieran Tierney as the defender was keen on pursuing a bigger challenge elsewhere. The left-back was linked with a move to Arsenal since the beginning of the summer transfer window and the move eventually materialised before the English transfer deadline.
Shortly after the player’s departure, Celtic acknowledged that they could not convince the defender to stay put with the club, a statement read: “We did all we could to keep Kieran at Celtic. While the club did not need or wish to sell Kieran, this was an opportunity which Kieran very much wished to pursue and with the club having received a significant offer, we have agreed to the transfer.”
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Celtic head coach Neil Lennon has indicated that Arsenal may walk away from the pursuit of Kieran Tierney after failing to reach a transfer agreement. The north London side recently made a renewed £25m bid for the Scotland international but the structure of the proposal has not gone well with the Hoops.
Speaking in a press conference, Lennon acknowledged that the Gunners have not come up with a third offer for the defender and there remains the strong chance that Tierney would remain with the club for the forthcoming campaign, he said:“It’s as you were really. I’ve had no information other than there were two bids that came in from Arsenal that were rejected. There has been no further inroads into that really.
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The agent of Kieran Tierney has said that Celtic will have the final say on whether his client remains at Parkhead beyond the summer. The Scotland international has racked 170 appearances since graduating through the club’s ranks but his immediate future with the club has come under doubt amid the transfer interest from Arsenal and Napoli.
Speaking to BBC Sport, agent Allan Preston said that the defender has affection for the Scottish champions but there will come a time whereby he will pursue a bigger challenge. When pressed on the speculation, he added that the player would only leave at the right price amid the supposed interest from Napoli and Arsenal.
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Celtic’s assistant manager John Kennedy has said that he is unperturbed by the recent speculation linking Kieran Tierney with a move away from Parkhead. The Scotland international is widely regarded as one of the best attack-minded left-backs in Europe and his development has caught the eye of several European sides.
Among those, Napoli and Arsenal have been constantly linked with his services in the past few weeks but Kennedy has suggested that the Scot would be staying put with the gossip barely materialising in the past, he said: “It has been the same for the last four windows, hasn’t it?Kieran is still recovering from surgery. His rehab will continue over the next couple of weeks. It’s one we’ll have to monitor. He will be pushing it towards the stage of the qualifiers. But we’ll have to see how he is feeling on a daily basis.”
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Former Celtic star Craig Beattie has urged the Hoops to consider the permanent signing of Neil Lennon following the club’s progress to the Scottish Cup final. The 47-year-old was appointed as the interim boss in February after the surprise departure of Brendan Rodgers and he has since impressed with six wins and two draws from the eight matches which have followed.
In a report covered by The Scottish Sun, Beattie said that Lennon has perfectly handed the pressure on his return to Parkhead and he deserves a permanent contract with the club on the cusp of a treble, he said: “He’s been under a huge amount of pressure since he’s come back in. He’s well on the way to winning the league and the League Cup is already in the bag.
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Celtic boss Neil Lennon praised his team after claiming a crucial victory over Dundee. Odsonne Edouard came up with a goal in the 96th minute of the match to beat Dundee and open up a 10-point advantage at the top of the SPL for Celtic. Lennon was extremely pleased with the victory as it took full advantage of the Rangers dropping points at home against Kilmarnock. There was expectation from Celtic about a comfortable victory in this match since Dundee have been struggling at the bottom end of the table for most of the season. The opponents were just one point ahead of the bottom coming into the match.
However, they put in a resolute defensive display and Celtic’s mediocre away form so far this season also started to rear the ugly head. Just when it seemed that Celtic were about to drop points for an eighth away match,Edouard was able to come up with this crucial goal. James Forrest was influential in helping Edouard get this going after playing a one-two in a tight spot. After the game, Lennon claimed that patience from the team was a key factor in getting this victory. Hearts and Kilmarnock were also defeated by Celtic in similar fashion, and Lennon is very happy to see the team going with belief until the final whistle.
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Former Celtic manager Ronny Deila believes Brendan Rodgers should have stuck with Celtic rather than pursue the challenge with Leicester City. The Northern Irishman has won the treble with the Hoops in the past two seasons and he was on course to replicate the same this term before making the surprise switch to the east Midlands.
Speaking on the Celts Are Here website, Deila admitted that the departure was disappointing for the Celtic point of view, given Rodgers had done a tremendous job by guiding the team to every domestic accolade within grasp. He added that the former Liverpool boss could have done better than the Foxes and perhaps waited for an elite club from the Premier League.
“I’m very sad for Celtic because he did an unbelievably good job. It’s important to have consistency at the club – especially Celtic who are going for ten in a row,” said Deila, who is now managing Valerenga in Norway. “I think he’s so good he could have managed a top four or five club down south straight from Celtic and not went to Leicester. I was surprised.”
With the departure of Rodgers, Celtic were quick to announce Neil Lennon as the interim boss for the campaign and they have since secured back-to-back triumphs over Hearts and Hibernian. As such, they are on course to secure the Scottish Premiership title for the eighth league title on the bounce with a six-point advantage over second-placed Rangers with 10 games remaining.
Elsewhere, Rodgers did not enjoy the best of beginnings with Leicester after they suffered a late 2-1 defeat against Watford on the road. For the current weekend, the Foxes are scheduled to entertain Fulham at the King Power Stadium and the match could offer Rodgers with a maiden triumph at the club, given the Cottagers’ poor defensive record over the course of the campaign.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has stressed that he is clearly content with the proceedings at Parkhead and he is not thinking about a bigger challenge elsewhere. The Northern Irishman has been linked with a number of high-profile vacancies over the past 12 months and his future has once again come under question after Leicester City recently sacked Claude Puel from the helm.
Speaking to BBC Scotland, Rodgers was asked whether he would consider an approach from the Premier League champions but his response was in the negative while insisting that he has no plans of leaving the Glasgow giants anytime soon, he said: “My job is to concentrate on the football aspect, and that is with Celtic. I’ve been stood here for two and a half years and I’ve been asked similar questions, my message is always very, very clear, I’m very concentrated on the game.”
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