By Alex Stevens
Ronny Deila has developed Leigh Griffiths, Kieran Tierney and Nir Bitton into stars, according to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell.
He is convinced the Hoops trio will be integral members of the team whoever takes over the reigns from Deila.
The Norwegian and his assistant John Collins have announced they will leave Parkhead in the summer and the club have said the new man will be appointed at the end of the current campaign.
Roy Keane, David Moyes, Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert are among those who have been strongly linked to the soon-to-be-vacant post.
Lawwell says one of Deila’s great strengths has been to develop young players and this will be his legacy at the club.
“The prime objective going into every season is winning the league,” Lawwell told the Scottish Sun. “So he has won two out of two and is an undefeated champion.
“He also keeps the ball rolling. It’s five in a row going into six.
“But look at the players he’s improved. Kieran Tierney was his creation.
“There was an improvement in Leigh Griffiths everyone can see. Nir Bitton has lost form lately, but he came on.
“Ronny brought a different culture to the club and we’ve learned a lot from what he’s brought here.
“Hopefully that will stand us in good stead when it comes to the selection of the new manager and how we go forward.
“But his legacy will hopefully see some of the younger players he has developed in the last two years make the breakthrough.”
Striker Griffiths, 25, has scored an impressive 39 goals in 50 Celtic matches this season, including 30 in 33 league encounters.
Left-back Tierney, 18, swept the boards with Scotland’s Young Player of the Year awards after his stunning debut season and is in line for a bumper new contract this summer.
Central midfielder Bitton, 24, has been a mainstay of the team this season, scoring eight goals from his anchorman position.
Meanwhile, Republic of Ireland No2 Keane has been installed as the new bookmakers favourite to take over the Parkhead hotseat at the end of the season.
Irish betting firm BoyleSports even suspended betting on the former Manchester United skipper being appointed new boss.