By Will Butcher
Brendan Rodgers has revealed that he wants to keep Gary Mackay-Steven and Nir Bitton at Celtic this month.
The Bhoys manager admitted that offers have been made for Mackay-Steven, after The Dundee Evening Telegraph revealed talks between Dundee United and the 26-year-old were ongoing.
Israel international Bitton has also been the subject of interest, with The Express claiming earlier this month that La Liga outfit Espanyol were keen on signing the midfielder.
However, Rodgers has declared that the two fringe stars still have a part to play at Parkhead this season, warning interested clubs to look elsewhere.
“I have a number of offers for Gary to go out but he is not one that I see going out,” Rodgers told the Daily Record. “He is a very important member of our squad here.
“Nir has worked very hard in training and looked very good. We haven’t had anything for him and he is not one that we want to lose.”
Mackay-Steven has made four appearances for the Hoops this season, as Scott Sinclair, James Forrest and Patrick Roberts remain ahead of him in the pecking order out wide.
It is a similar story for Bitton, who is likely to have fallen even further down in Rodgers’ thinking after the £3million signing of Ivorian Kouassi Eboue from Russian side Krasnodar.
Football Insider verdict:
It comes as a surprise that Rodgers is keen to keep both Mackay-Steven and Bitton at Celtic Park. Both have failed to impress during the Northern Irishman’s tenure as manager since he took over from Ronny Deila in the summer, and were seen as expendable members of the 47-time Scottish champions’ squad. However, a substantial offer for either player could still tempt the former Liverpool and Swansea manager to sell. Rodgers is likely to welcome added transfer funds to his budget in order to pursue other transfer targets in this window or in the summer. Both players could command a decent transfer fee, with Mackay-Steven contracted at Celtic Park until May 2019, while Bitton’s deal stretches to until May 2020.
In other Celtic transfer news, this international attacker has issued a come and get me plea to the Hoops.