Date: 23rd June 2018 at 8:39am
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Chris Sutton believes that Celtic must avoid selling enforcer Dedryck Boyata at all costs this summer, as he feels the squad is already a little thin on the ground in defence as it is.

The 27-year-old defender has divided opinion during his time with Parkhead so far due to the fact he is prone to the odd lapse in concentration.

However, he was a regular in Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI last season and the powerhouse managed 39 appearances across all competitions.

Pundit Sutton claims that the Bhoys must not offload Boyata this summer despite the fact his contract expires in 2019 and feels they would have to have a replacement lined up if he did leave.

“They simply cannot afford to sell him (Boyata),” Sutton wrote in his column for the Daily Record.

“That might surprise a few people as the centre-half has not always been the most dependable. But, bottom line, Celtic will need him.

“The Champions League qualifiers are only a few weeks away and if they were to let Boyata go they would be losing an experience defender from a backline that already looks weak going in to Europe.

“There is talk about Lazio looking at him and figures or around £4m have been mentioned. It would be nice money for a player who has never really managed to win everyone over.

“Regardless, unless there’s a centre-back lined up to replace him immediately then it would be far more costly to punt him.”

Football Insider verdict:

Boyata may be a little inconsistent in the heart of the Celtic defence at times, but on his day he can be an imposing figure that sets the tone from the back. He is currently away on international duty at the World Cup and looked comfortable in the opening group match 3-0 win over Panama. The ball-playing centre-back was featuring alongside Tottenham’s world-class duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in the heart of a back three, where he didn’t look out of place. Sutton raises a fair point that the Scottish champions can’t afford to be thin on numbers ahead of their Champions League qualifiers and they are hardly loaded with top centre-back options. Boyata’s current contract situation has clearly raised his future into big doubt and teams may be looking to capitalise on the fact he has just one year remaining, which is why the club should consider offering him a contract extension.

In other Celtic news, Brendan Rodgers should use the Hoops’ upcoming pre-season friendlies as an experiment.

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