£9m target Dedryck Boyata urged to stay at Celtic

04/08/18 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP' CELTIC v LIVINGSTON (3-1)' CELTIC PARK - GLASGOW ' Celtic's Dedryck Boyata warms up on the pitch after the match
04/08/18 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP' CELTIC v LIVINGSTON (3-1)' CELTIC PARK - GLASGOW ' Celtic's Dedryck Boyata warms up on the pitch after the match
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Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata
has been urged to stay at Celtic for another tilt at the Champions League by his team-mate Kristoffer Ajer.

Boyata’s future at the club remains in doubt with Fulham understood to be pursuing a firm interest in the 27-year-old Belgian international who has just a year remaining on his contract.

Sources in Boyata’s homeland claim the English Premier League club are prepared to pay £9 million for the player whose reputation was significantly enhanced by his performances for Belgium in the World Cup finals in Russia this summer.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has remained hopeful Boyata will agree to sign a new contract with the Scottish champions. But if Boyata sets his heart on a return to the English Premier League, an offer of that size for a player who joined Celtic for just £1.5 million from Manchester City three years ago would be hard to reject.

Boyata returned to training with the Celtic first-team squad last week and is in line to make his first appearance of the season tomorrow night when they face AEK Athens at Parkhead in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie.

With the transfer window for English Premier League clubs closing on Thursday night, a decision on Boyata’s situation now appears imminent.

“I would like to see Dedryck stay,” said Ajer, pictured, the 20-year-old Norwegian international who partnered Boyata at the heart of Celtic’s defence for much of last season.

“He has been fantastic at Celtic
and I would like to keep playing beside him and keep learning from him. He’s been back from the World Cup for a while now and is a 
top professional who always keeps fit.

“He was obviously very happy with Belgium’s World Cup achievements. It was great for them and good to see.

“Dedryck and other experienced centre-halves have helped my development a lot. He talks to me every single game we play together.
We played a lot together last season and he was fantastic at communicating with me throughout the game. He’s been really helpful

“The squad is getting stronger now, with Dedryck back and Jozo Simunovic available again after suspension for the game against AEK.

“That’s how it is at Celtic, there is competition in every area of the pitch and that is healthy because it pushes you hard in training every day and you have to be performing in every game.”

Meanwhile, Celtic, should they beat AEK Athens, will face either Swedish side Malmo or Hungarian champions Mol Vidi, formerly Videoton, to reach the Champions League group stages.