Brendan Rodgers says Celtic will not stand in the way of Tom Rogic if he decides he wants to leave the Scottish champions this summer.
The Australian playmaker has just one year remaining on his current contract at the club and initial talks on a new deal failed to reach an agreement.
Rodgers remains hopeful Rogic, who joined Celtic from Central Coast Mariners for just £400,000 in January 2013, will extend his stay in Scotland. But the Celtic manager accepts that there may be other options which the 25-year-old, who will represent his country at this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia, will find more attractive.
“Tom is a brilliant player, but you have to respect that a player’s career is short,” said Rodgers. “I don’t think he is questioning the club, I don’t think he is questioning anything here at Celtic. He is a young guy who was deemed not good enough for some clubs when he was younger.
“Tom has come over here and it has taken five years for him to really establish himself and show his real talents. In the last couple of years, he has been sensational, really.
“It’s just a life decision, really. Tom and his wife are from Australia. If you are a Celtic supporter, you probably can’t think of a better place to be in the world than Celtic. But there are warmer and drier places!”
Rogic, who is already on the radar of several English Premier League and Spanish La Liga clubs, could enhance his transfer value by showcasing his talents with Australia when they face France, Denmark and Peru in the World Cup next month.
He has become a huge favourite with the Celtic support, writing his name into club folklore with the stoppage time winner against Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden last year to clinch the club’s historic undefeated domestic treble.
Rogic scored his fifth goal in nine Old Firm appearances as Celtic crushed Rangers 5-0 last Sunday to secure their seventh consecutive league title win. His representatives remain in talks with Celtic and Rodgers is happy to remain patient over the player’s future.
“Tom’s a massive talent and we hope we can keep him here,” added Rodgers. “There’s nothing sinister in it. He’ll take his time and I’ll always support players whatever their decisions are. Hopefully, he can stay and agree a longer term.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, has confirmed that striker Moussa Dembele will be available for the conclusion to Celtic’s season as they attempt to win back-to-back domestic trebles when they face Motherwell in the Scottish Cup final on 19 May.
The French under-21 international has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
“Moussa will be fine,” said Rodgers. “He had a couple of days out after getting the injury after the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers. He was back in training two days before the game against Rangers on Sunday, but we didn’t want to risk it.
“We wanted [our strongest team] to win the title, but we also have a cup final which we want him to be ready for.”