By Alex Stevens
Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton has revealed he is so keen to join Arsenal he would even accept a regular role as a substitute.
The giant Israeli was linked with a transfer to Emirates Stadium earlier this season but stayed at Parkhead.
Midfield anchorman Bitton has made no secret of his interest in playing in Europe’s most competitive leagues but is not keen on joining a team locked in relegation battles.
“If I got an offer to play in a team in England who were at the bottom of the table, it would be better for me to stay at Celtic,” the new Israel captain was quoted as saying in the Scottish Sun. “That style of play wouldn’t suit me. But no player from Israel could say no to Arsenal, it doesn’t matter if I would just be sitting on the bench or not.”
Bitton, 24, joined Celtic from FC Ashdod in his native Israel in the summer of 2013, just weeks after Victor Wanyama had been sold to Southampton.
The 6ft 5in midfielder has emerged as a key player under Ronny Deila, adding a considerable goal threat to his composure in possession and ability to break up attacks.
Bitton has featured in 38 matches for Celtic this season, scoring a highly creditable eight goals and supplying six assists.
He claims that countryman Yossi Benayoun, who played for Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham in his career, is his inspiration.
“I don’t think any player who comes from a country such as ours could possibly turn down that opportunity,” Bitton added to the Scottish Sun. “Yossi Benayoun played for three top Premier League teams and was a top player. He is my inspiration.
“In every interview I do I say I don’t want to leave Celtic because I really enjoy it there. But every player has ambitions to play in the top leagues in Europe and I won’t lie, I want to go there.”