Rumour Mill: Bakkali snubs Celtic | Mark Warburton

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MARK Warburton is the favourite to become Rangers’ new manager after the former Brentford boss admitted talks had taken place with the club’s board, Celtic target Zakaria Bakkali looks set to snub the Glasgow club in favour of a move to Valencia, and Hearts have dropped interest in Croatian defender Niko Datkovic after his club demanded a seven-figure fee.

Mark Warburton favourite for the Rangers job

PSV's Zakaria Bakkali. Picture: Getty

PSV's Zakaria Bakkali. Picture: Getty

Mark Warburton believes he and David Weir can revive Rangers and restore them as serious rivals to Celtic at the summit of Scottish football.

Former Brentford manager Warburton has confirmed for the first time he has held initial talks with the Rangers board over taking charge at Ibrox. The 52-year-old was last night priced as short as a 1-2 favourite by bookmakers to get the job.

Warburton left Brentford at the end of the season after leading the unfashionable London club into the English Championship play-offs. (The Scotsman)

Zakaria Bakkali looks set to snub Celtic move

Lee Erwin. Picture: PA

Lee Erwin. Picture: PA

Celtic look set to lose out on PSV winger Zakaria Bakkali as the teenager is almost certain to join Valencia instead.

The Hoops almost made a deal to bring the highly rated 19-year old to Celtic Park in January but couldn’t agree a fee with the Dutch club.

Now they face competition from 12 other sides, according to the player who stated his desire to play in a “big league”. (The Herald)

Euro 2016 ambitions behind Boyata’s Celtic switch

Dedryck Boyata. Picture: SNS

Dedryck Boyata. Picture: SNS

Dedryck Boyata targets a place in Belgium’s Euro 2016 squad after agreeing to join Celtic in a four-year, £1.5m deal yesterday.

The centre back saw how his former Manchester City teammate and fellow countryman Jason Denayer excelled in Glasgow, which enabled the youngster to make his international debut.

Although it wasn’t Denayer, but actually John Guidetti who sold Celtic to Boyata. The centre back was in communication with the striker who raved about his time at Celtic Park. (The Scotsman)

Former Hearts full-back Adam Eckersley denies Hibs link

Niko Datkovic (right). Picture: Getty

Niko Datkovic (right). Picture: Getty

Hearts left-back Adam Eckersley has stated that he will not be joining Edinburgh rivals Hibs.

Rumours of the move began after Eckersley’s former Hearts teammate James Keatings made the switch across Edinburgh.

The player has since responded to a question on social media asking about the potential move by stating: “Wish Hibs well! But no I’m not going there”. (The Scotsman)

Hearts drop interest in Croatian defender

Hearts interest in Niko Datkovic has cooled after HNK Rijeka demanded more than £1 million for the Croatian centre-back.

Tynecastle officials lodged an offer for the 22-year-old but were blown away when Rijeka came back with their seven-figure valuation.

Talks have stopped for the moment and are unlikely to resume whilst the two clubs 
remain so far apart in their valuations. (Evening News)

Baraclough wants Erwin to remain at Fir Park

Ian Baraclough has begged Lee Erwin to turn down the opportunity of joining Leeds United because the Motherwell manager believes he can earn him a better move down the line.

The Fir Park boss said he would be ‘disappointed’ to see the striker sign for Leeds because he doesn’t want the player’s career to stagnate in the reserves.

Motherwell have offered Erwin a new deal and are praying for an 11th hour change of heart from the player, but it looks likely the 21-year old will be on his way. (Daily Mail)

Hibs sign Danny Carmichael from Queen of the South

Hibs yesterday signed winger Danny Carmichael from Queen of the South on a two-year contract.

The-24-year-old was in talks with the Easter Road club for the last two days and has now put pen to paper.

Carmichael has attracted praise for his performances this season as Queen of the South reached the SPFL Championship play-offs, only to lose to Rangers. (Edinburgh Evening News)

Burton could hijack Higginbotham to Kilmarnock deal

Burton Albion could scupper Kilmarnock’s chances of landing Kallum Higginbotham as the League One club hope to persuade the player to return south of the border.

Higginbotham excelled at Thistle over a two-year stay and has caught the eye of Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Thistle have also made an offer to keep the attacking midfielder at Firhill, while Hibs are also said to be interested. (Daily Express)

Scott McDonald one of 16 players to exit Motherwell

Scott McDonald is the most high-profile of 16 Motherwell players who have left Fir Park.

Stuart Carswell, Simon Ramsden, Paul Lawson, Adam Cummins, Iain Vigurs, Bob McHugh, Zaine Francis-Angol, Fraser Kerr and Ross Stewart have all been allowed to leave following the expiry of their contracts.

Short-term contracts and loan deals for George Long, Mark O’Brien, Anthony Straker, Louis Laing, Nathan Thomas, Conor Grant and former Celtic and Middlesbrough striker McDonald have also run out.

Winger Lionel Ainsworth and strikers John Sutton and Lee Erwin have been offered extended deals. (The Scotsman)

Dundee could set-up Crystal Palace link

Aside from filing the coffers of former Dens Park favourite Julian Speroni, it seems Dundee may get something else out of their recent testimonial meeting with Crystal Palace.

Manager Paul Hartley has since held discussions with Eagles’ boss Alan Pardew in the hope of estbalishing a link between the two clubs that would see the Scottish side taking some of Palace’s highly rated young players on loan. (The Herald)

News in brief

• Former Hibs striker Colin Nish has become the new manager at recently relegated Cowdenbeath following the resignation of Jimmy Nicholl. (BBC)

• Bilel Mohsni has been issued with a notice of complaint and could face a long ban following his violent behaviour at Motherwell. (The Scotsman)

• SFA chief executive Stewart Regan last night welcomed Sepp Blatter’s decision to step down as Fifa president and said he was keen to discuss how to reform world football’s governing body. (The Scotsman)

• Dundee have signed defender Julen Etxabeguren Leanizbarrutia on a three-year deal. (Evening Telegraph)

• Inverness CT defender Danny Devine has signed a new one-year deal to remain at the club. (Press and Journal)