Ronny Deila believes newfound Scotland star Kieran Tierney should remain at Celtic for another three years to fully realise his potential and has no fears the highly-rated teenager will have his head turned by interest from the English Premier League.
Tierney this week became the third-youngest post-war debutant for Scotland, after Denis Law and Willie Henderson, when he earned his first cap in Tuesday’s friendly win over Denmark at Hampden.
It was another landmark moment in a remarkable season for the 18-year-old left-back, who has been a Celtic first team regular since October.
Tierney’s impressive Scotland debut was watched by several English clubs, including Southampton, who have regularly purchased some of Celtic’s leading players for major transfer fees in recent years.
But Celtic manager Deila insists the Isle of Man-born youngster’s career will be best served by staying put for the bulk of his current contract with the Scottish champions which runs until 2019.
“He has been playing here now consistently for seven months,” said Deila. “He is in a very good situation now, playing for his national team and in Europe for a big club. What can be better?
“The most important thing for KT now is to stay at Celtic. Everything has happened very quickly. He needs experience. He needs to play over time and he gets that here. He can play for a huge club with all the challenges that are here and he has just started.
“He needs to be here for at least one, two or three more years and, hopefully, he will develop even more. He can be a big player for Celtic and we will see what is happening after that.
“Do we have to be careful all the talk about him goes to his head? With some players, you need to do that.
“You look at their body language, how they behave, how they are in training. If I see changes, I will of course tell him.
“But so far I haven’t seen any changes. I just see a mature boy who is very curious to learn and happy to play.
“I have a big staff around me so I get every message if they feel someone is slipping out of our hands. We will of course pull them back again if that happens, but there haven’t been any problems so far.”
Such is Deila’s high regard for Tierney, he believes he could even blossom into a genuinely world class talent.
“Of course he can,” added Deila. “Messi can come from Scotland.
“But there is maybe going to be one in a hundred years.
“Kenny Dalglish had a big, big career before as world class player from Scotland. It’s true that was 30 years ago, but now Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming from Sweden. So it’s possible.
“KT can go all the way. He can play at the highest level if he continues to develop. He needs to improve all the time and to do that he has to play.”
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