Alex McLeish has suggested Ryan Christie may have his sights set on a move to the Premier League as Celtic prepare new contract talks.
The former Rangers and Scotland manager, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the attacking midfielder had been “fantastic” for the Bhoys in recent seasons but admitted he could still improve playing at a higher level.
Christie’s current deal at Parkhead is set to expire in the summer of 2022, leaving this summer as the last opportunity for Celtic to secure a big-money transfer if he is to leave.
McLeish admitted Celtic could not stop Christie, who turns 26 next week, from thinking about a move elsewhere and suggested it could be the best decision for his career.
Asked if he thought it was crunch time for Christie and Celtic, McLeish told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge: “Yeah, it is, you can’t stop the boys imagining somewhere else and thinking that they can improve themselves in a stronger league.
“I guess that would be the ambition of maybe going to England. He’s been a fantastic player over the last couple of years for club and country and I believe that he can get better in a higher level league.
“That depends on the individual and depends on their ambition. I look back on my career, I spent 17 years at Aberdeen, although we couldn’t get out of our contracts, even if your contract was up the club still had a hold on you in terms of the transfer fees. I also had a pretty persuasive manager in a bloke called Sir Alex Ferguson.”
Christie has played 35 times across all competitions this season, with five goals and 13 assists to his name.
He also has 16 caps under his belt for Scotland.