Forster has been touted as “opening the door” to another tour of duty in Glasgow’s east end after rejecting an extension on reduced terms, with his current deal now in its final 12 months. Yet, the details of this development ought to douse feverish hopes that the keeper - arguably Celtic’s most pivotal performer as they landed a ninth straight title in the Covid-19 abridged 2019-20 season he spent at his former club on loan - could be acquired permanently.
It is believed that the England international has been asked to take an almost 40% wage cut on his current salary to stay at St Mary’s beyond next summer. The fact he is understood to rake in a £93,000-a-week basic means the new deal he is cool on would still earn him in excess of £50,000-a-week.
Such a sum is far too rich for Celtic, left smarting by the player’s unwillingness to return on another loan deal last season. The Parkhead club were then shocked by his decision to decline such a move when it would not have cost him a penny, a clause in his contract ensuring his entire £93,000-a-week would still have been covered by Southampton.
Forster, who retains enormous affection for Celtic following 236 appearances for the club that claimed him seven major honours, sought a permanent deal if he was to leave Southampton then. The keeper had dropped to third in the club’s pecking order before his return north in 2019. However, following 13 starts for Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side last season, the Austrian is now believed to see Forster as a genuine rival to Alex McCarthy for first-choice status.
Against such a backdrop, it has been speculated by well-placed sources that a potential switch to Celtic has been placed in the public domain over this past week merely as leverage. An attempt by Forster’s representatives to squeeze out better terms on an extension just as negotiations appear to have hit an impasse.