Celtic will consider offering Callum McGregor an improved contract after rejecting an approach from Leicester City for the midfielder before the English Premier League transfer window closed on Thursday.
Former Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers had hoped to be reunited with McGregor, who developed into a hugely influential performer for the Scottish champions during the Northern Irishman’s tenure.
Despite receiving no encouragement from Celtic earlier in the summer when Leicester initially made their interest in McGregor known, it’s understood Rodgers initiated a late attempt to land the 26-year-old on Wednesday.
Leicester City were prepared to pay in excess of £15 million for the Scotland international, but before they could even lodge a formal bid, they were informed the player was simply not for sale.
Having agreed the record- breaking £25m sale of Kieran Tierney to Arsenal, Celtic were not prepared to countenance the departure of another prize asset.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon revealed they may now seek to further recognise McGregor’s importance to the club by opening negotiations on another new contract. The player only signed his current deal, which runs until the summer of 2023, last December, but could have more than doubled his salary at Leicester.
“We will possibly look to tie Callum down for even longer,” said Lennon. “That’s something we may talk about with his representatives as we go along.
“There was an approach for Callum this week. We knew about it and there’s no more to it. Am I annoyed at the timing of it? No, it’s natural during the window.
“We made it pretty clear that we wanted Callum to stay. He’s an important player here. We want him to continue in the same vein as the last two or three seasons.
“I had a chat with Callum on Friday morning and he’s absolutely fine about it. Your mind does start to wander in those circumstances, that’s only natural, but now the window is shut he is fully focused on what he has to do here.
“Callum is level-headed. He’s another one who has come through the system and we are very proud of that.
“He’s an outstanding player and professional – and we made it clear we couldn’t do without him. He can play in various midfield positions. There is so much quality to the way he plays. His football intelligence is very high, his quality has got better and he’s in great shape. Callum’s fitness levels are amazing considering how much football he has played.
“Callum is still here and the English Premier League transfer window is shut. Clubs from other countries might show interest in some of our players, but as far as we are concerned our important players are not for sale. Callum certainly comes into that bracket.”
Lennon intends to use the remainder of the Scottish transfer window, which shuts on 2 September, to try and make the most of the windfall fee for Tierney in strengthening his squad with as many as five new signings.
“We are really pleased to have finalised the Kieran situation,” he added. “We want to bring a few in now, but we may have to get a few more out to make sure the balance of the squad is right.
“Will the fee for Kieran help to upgrade my wish list? Yes. It will help. We aren’t going to go out and break the transfer record but we will try to be shrewd with it. We will look to up the quality if we can in the positions we want to.
“We are in a healthy position. I like the squad but we are always looking to strengthen. We are playing well just now, there is momentum and we look fit. But if there is quality available, we will look to strengthen and give the place a lift.”