CELTIC manager Ronny Deila has insisted he still sees a long-term future for Kris Commons at the club but has warned him against “playing hardball” in negotiations over a new contract.
The 31-year-old playmaker’s current deal expires at the end of the season and he has made it clear he is unhappy at the terms being offered to extend his stay with the Scottish champions.
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Deila has denied Celtic have only offered Commons a one-year contract, claiming a lengthier deal is available subject to certain conditions. Those are understood to include the number of appearances made by Scottish football’s reigning Player of the Year.
Commons, who scored his sixth goal of the season in Celtic’s 4-3 Europa League defeat by Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night, will be free to talk to any other interested clubs next month.But Deila is still hopeful the impasse between Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell and Commons’ agent can be resolved.
“It is not right that he is only being offered a one-year deal,” said Deila. “We haven’t offered him one year, we are talking about a structured deal. That’s where the difference is.
“No, there is no deadline for an agreement. He has a contract until the end of the season, so there is no big rush. The rush will be if he can find some other clubs in January. But if he looks at the contract, he is going to stay here for the rest of the season.
“It’s not a case of him being offered the contract and told to take it or leave it. Not from our side. If it’s from him, then he is playing a hardball game and we will wait and see.
“I still see a future for him here. He is a good player. You saw that on Thursday night – he can be an influence on us scoring goals and that is important.
“Peter is talking with his agent about a structure in his deal and that is where we stand right now. It is still quite early in the negotiations and this is normal procedure. It’s always a chance that we could lose him in January but we have to think of the best interests of the club and what we think will make the team as good as possible. It’s about negotiation. Kris wants something, we want something and it’s about agreeing on something that we both want to do. We will see if it’s going to happen.”
Deila is supportive of a policy which places conditions on new contracts for players over 30 and has also encouraged Commons to pursue his previously stated interest in preparing for a possible future coaching role at the club.
“We are talking about different things when you have older players,” added Deila. “I had the same thing at Stromsgodset. If older players get very long contracts, then you never know with them.
“It is about hunger. It is about commitment, that you really want to improve all the time. If you are always looking for small details to get better, then you can play until you are 40.
“If they get a bad injury, how long can they keep up? Are they keeping their legs? And when is their passion gone? So if you give them a long contract it is a risk for the club. That’s why we need to think about what we are doing.
“But, of course, there are circumstances which could keep him here for three or four years. That’s up to Kris and the club to agree. That’s what negotiations are about. It is a positive thing that both parties want it.
“I don’t know if a coaching role could be part of it but I know Kris is thinking in that way and that’s very positive.We need to use our top players to pass on their experience to the academy players. Scott Brown has started doing some work with the under-20s and if Kris wants that as well, it’s a good thing for him. Every player has to coach a bit. Then they have to be conscious of what they are doing, to say in a few short words what you are thinking about football. That starts developing their football intelligence and also how to be a leader in front of other players.”
Celtic entertain struggling St Mirren on Premiership business tomorrow with Brown set to return, having been left out of the trip to Zagreb because he was one booking away from a suspension. James Forrest and Mikael Lustig are also in contention to return.
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