Ryan Christie is poised to sign a new contract with Celtic just weeks after he admits he concluded he had no future with the Scottish champions.
A remarkable transformation in Christie’s fortunes has seen him become a key figure in Brendan Rodgers’ side during their recent return to top form, scoring three goals in their last three games.
The 23-year-old, who has also retained his place in the Scotland squad for this month’s Nations League qualifiers against Albania and Israel, is out of contract at the end of this season.
Christie has struggled to secure regular first-team football at Celtic since joining them from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2015. He returned to the club this summer after spending the previous 18 months on loan at Aberdeen but initially seemed no closer to finding a place in manager Rodgers’ plans.
When he was not even named among the substitutes for the league defeat against Hearts at Tynecastle in August, a day when Rodgers made a raft of changes to his side ahead of a Champions League qualifier, Christie admits he feared he would have to leave the club.
But he is now close to agreeing terms on a new deal after being assured by Rodgers he has an important role to play going forward.
“We’re in negotiations right now and it has all been positive,” said Christie. “I spoke to the manager the other day and he made me aware that he wanted me to stay and there was a pathway for me. That was all I needed to hear. Hopefully, we can get that deal sorted soon.
“The lowest point for me was right at the start of the season. We played a few qualifiers, then I was in the stand for the league game at Hearts and for a few games after that. It was hard to see a pathway for me at Celtic then.
“I was obviously coming back from Aberdeen where I was playing most weeks. I found it so much harder to adjust to not even being on the bench. So it was a frustrating time but, if anything, that spurs you on to keep your head down and work harder. You just hope it pays dividends.
“This is the outcome that I wanted. I knew at the start of the season, coming into my last year under contract, that something needed to change if I was going to stay at this club.
“I had to make some kind of impact. So to be here and to hopefully get a new deal over the line will be fantastic for me and a positive turnaround. It will give me confidence that there’s a pathway for me at this club and I can contribute to the team.”
With French midfielder Olivier Ntcham rated as seriously doubtful because of a hamstring injury, Christie is set to retain his place in the Celtic starting line-up for tonight’s pivotal Europa League Group B qualifier against RB Leipzig in Glasgow.
It’s a match Celtic need to win to retain genuine hope of further progress in the tournament after suffering a 2-0 defeat to Leipzig in Germany a fortnight ago. “Our aim at the start of this season was to have European football after Christmas,” added Christie.
“So we realise what we need to do on Thursday night. We need to win and then assess the remaining two fixtures that are coming up in the group. I don’t think there’s any added pressure because there’s always pressure when you play for Celtic. We’re playing at home and we take great confidence from that. I’m sure it will be a different game from out there in Germany.”