RONNY Deila’s hopes of luring Martin Odegaard to Celtic look slimmer than ever after it emerged that Real Madrid are in pole position to sign Norway’s teenage midfielder.
Odegaard, who made his full debut under Deila for Stromsgodset aged 15, arrived in Madrid yesterday to begin talks with the European champions with a view to completing his transfer to the Bernabeu stadium from the Norwegian side.
The 16-year-old has attracted attention from top European clubs including Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester United and Ajax, but Deila had hoped his connection with the player and his family might persuade him to use Celtic as a stepping stone to a bigger club as he continues his development.
Odegaard scored five goals in 23 games for Stromsgodset to help the team finish fourth in the Norwegian Tippeligaen league last year.
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Last October, Odegaard became the youngest player in the history of the European Championship when he came on as a substitute in Norway’s 2-1 victory over Bulgaria in a Euro 2016 qualifier.
Meanwhile, Celtic midfielder Nir Biton hopes he has finally proved himself to Deila after being forced to fight his way back into the team for the second time in a year.
The Israel international was a handful of games into his Parkhead career as 2014 got under way 12 months ago. But the former FC Ashdod player soon became an integral part of Neil Lennon’s team before a groin injury ruled him out for the final ten weeks of the campaign.
Lennon predicted a bright future for Biton but when the Northern Irishman quit his Hoops post in the summer, it meant the 23-year-old was forced to start all over again under Deila. However, after playing a bit part in the early part of the season, Biton has now racked up six successive starts and believes he has finally convinced the Norwegian of his worth.
He told the Celtic View: “It was a good process for me. In life, you always have the things that make you strong and these experiences just make me stronger. Last year, I got in the team and had some good games and then I got the injury. At the end of the season, we got a new manager and I had to prove myself to him. I had to train hard, as what you did last year meant nothing because you have to do new things for him.
“Every manager has different expectations and what I did for Lenny was deleted when the new manager came in.
“My first year in Scotland and I was just trying to settle in – the weather, the football, the way everyone wanted me to play. This season I am calmer, more settled and I just want to have success at Celtic.”
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