Neil Lennon: Celtic won’t sell James Forrest… he’s priceless

Neil Lennon believes James Forrest is priceless to Celtic’s?ambitions and insists the winger will not be sold during the current transfer window.

James Forrest is a target for Zenit St Petersburg. Picture: SNS.

Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg have been credited with an interest in the Celtic winger and are believed to value him at around £12 million.

But Celtic manager Lennon is adamant that Zenit or any other potential suitors for Forrest will be wasting their time with any approach before the window closes on 2 September.

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The 28-year-old, Scotland’s reigning Player of the Year, came through Celtic’s academy and has consistently made it clear he would be content to remain a one-club man for the rest of his career.

Forrest is already under contract until the summer of 2022 but Lennon has repeated his desire to offer the Scotland international a new deal on enhanced terms. “Obviously we’re not going to sell James,” said Lennon. “We actually want to look to renegotiate with him and maybe one or two others as well.

“James is happy here. At 28, going away [to Russia] is a big choice to make but we’re nowhere near that. It’s just speculation. I don’t have a price for James. I know there have been prices quoted but it would take a fair transfer fee to prise him away from what we want from him here.”

Celtic captain Scott Brown believes it is no surprise Forrest is attracting attention from elsewhere in the aftermath of left-back Kieran Tierney’s record-breaking £25m move to Arsenal last week.

Brown feels it is recognition of the standard of player being produced and developed by the Scottish champions who last week also rebuffed an approach from Leicester City for midfielder Callum McGregor. “James deserves people looking at him, deserves people putting in bids for him,” said Brown.

“He is in a great place for us at the moment. Our main focus at the moment is trying to get into the Champions League and have a good season and that is James’ focus as well.

“I am sure we will see a lot of bids coming in for James, Mikey Johnston and Ryan Christie because they are top-quality players.

“We can’t stop people watching players, but the good thing for us is that James is tied down to a long-term contract, he loves the club and has been playing really well.

“We had offers for Callum as everyone knows and there will be offers for James and that’s because they are top-quality players and it’s the best possible thing for us.

“For us, Kieran’s move to Arsenal is phenomenal. He’s a young lad who has come through the ranks and shown his quality throughout his years here. You sell him on for £25 million and it should be a fairy story.

“He always will be a fan and the huge thing is that I see Ajax bringing players through and selling them on and they have a party for them leaving. We try and criticise. It’s a different level.

“Whether you are a Manchester United player, a Barcelona player, a PSG player, you always have a price.

“We named ours for Kieran, it was £25 million and someone hit it.

“We wish him all the best. He goes and does what he has to do and will show what a top-quality player he is as well.

“You will always have decisions to make and he made the best one for him. He wants to go to England and test himself against the best players week-in and week-out and that’s what he’s going to do.”