Zenden, whose “remarkable CV” includes spells at Barcelona, Chelsea and Liverpool in addition to 54 caps for his country, is training at the Glasgow club this week with a view to resuming a career that has been on hold since he was released in the summer after two years with the Stadium of Light side.
Scotland full-back Bardsley describes the midfielder as a “lovely character who is missed at Sunderland” and maintains his experience would be positive for Celtic on and off the park.
Cynics might say Neil Lennon has been here before with the ill-starred recruitment of 33-year-old Freddie Ljungberg in January, but Bardsley draws parallels with another veteran.
“You wouldn’t know his age,” he said.
“Look at all these top players like Ryan Giggs, who have achieved so much and still bring so much to the party. I have no doubt he would be a success at Celtic.
“He is always looking to get on the ball, thread a pass and is so energic for someone 35. He has vast experience, what with playing in a Champions League final and all the trophies he’s won, and it is great for the lads to listen to that. When things are tough he won’t be afraid to get on the ball and make the team tick.
“For a Dutchman who played in the generation of Davids, Bergkamp, Kliuvert and van der Saar, you’d never think he would be the way he is, so down to earth and so funny.
“He is teetotal yet went out on the Christmas dos and was always one of the last there and always doing pranks.”
The major similarity with Ljunberg would appear to be in dubious choice of underwear. “He has the worst boxer shorts in history,” said Bardsley, who has grim memories of not being so much boxed but bent into a corner by Zenden, a black belt in karate.
“He used to do a few moves and put me in a move one day and I couldn’t get out of it. It nearly killed me.”