CELTIC manager Ronny Deila has insisted that doubts over Kris Commons’ future at the Scottish champions are being caused by the length of contract on offer to the player and not by his salary demands.
Commons, the reigning Player of the Year in Scotland, is currently in negotiations with the club over extending his stay beyond the end of this season when his current deal expires.
Deila is adamant he wishes to retain the services of the 31-year-old attacking midfielder who has been Celtic’s most creative and influential performer over the past two seasons which have seen him score a combined tally of 51 goals.
Several English clubs have been linked with a January transfer window move for Commons, including Bolton Wanderers – now managed by former Celtic boss Neil Lennon – and Leicester City.
It is believed Commons is seeking the security of a three-year contract to remain with Celtic, who he joined for a bargain fee of £300,000 from Derby County almost five years ago.
But, ahead of tonight’s pivotal Europa League Group D fixture against Austrian champions Red Bull Salzburg at Celtic Park, Deila has strongly hinted that the club will only offer a shorter deal to a player who will celebrate his 32nd birthday next August.
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“The length of contract is something we are thinking about a lot,” said Deila. “You always have to look at that, because when a player gets older a long contract is a danger for the club.
“It’s good for the player and if we keep the player fit and motivated all the time, it’s no problem for the club. But you never know what will happen in a year. If an older player has a long contract and then gets injured, you have used a lot of money you cannot get back.
“We have to do the right things for the club and provide for the interests of the club. But when Kris is at the top of his game as a player, there is no problem. You know that he has a high impact on Celtic. Of course we are trying to keep him but there are a lot of things in a contract.
“He has his demands and we have our things that are important as well. We have to think about what’s best for us, while Kris must think about what’s best for him. That’s always a negotiation. We come in with what we will pay and they come back with what they want. The negotiation is going through Peter Lawwell. He is doing it. But of course we talk all the time so there is co-operation. I don’t think the money is a problem. You have your money as a club and you make use of it how you want to. If we want to do it, we can do it.
“It’s more about policy than the sums of money. If the demands for money are unbelievably high, then the club could be ruined. So it’s not the cash that’s the problem. It’s only if you want double the next paid player at Celtic that it becomes a problem. Thankfully, we have not had any problems like that so far.”
Commons has largely been a regular in Deila’s starting line-up when fit this season, although he was notably left out when Celtic lost to Maribor in the play-off round of the Champions League.
Deila insists Commons, who scored Celtic’s winner in their crucial 1-0 win at home to Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League last month, remains a part of his vision for the future of his team.
“Of course he is,” added Deila. “He has played every match when he has been fit. So that’s nothing to ask about.
“I think international football now needs eleven players who have to run hard. You will see that on Thursday night against Salzburg. Kris has skills which are unbelievably important. He is very creative, he is a goalscorer and has good relations with the players around him.
“His defensive play is something he has to develop like the others. You can say that about Anthony Stokes as well. But he is starting to work much harder and doing his job better. As long as they progress and want to do it, they will get there.”
Deila is relaxed about the ongoing speculation over Commons and also with Celtic’s efforts to secure on-loan Manchester City striker John Guidetti on a permanent deal.
The Swedish international’s agent is expected in Glasgow imminently for contract negotiations as Guidetti is free to talk to any club he sees fit in January.
“In every case, players will be linked with other clubs, building up to the transfer window,” said Deila. “Then you have to make the right choices. Players want to see what opportunities are out there, clubs want to go to the players and get them as soon as possible.
“It doesn’t surprise me that clubs in England are looking at Kris. Guidetti, I think, is another one clubs will want. If he starts looking around, there will be clubs all over Europe who have his name on a list. But it is something else to get an offer from one of those clubs.”
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