Rodgers: Callum McGregor can operate at English Premier League level
Due to a combination of his versatility and his consistently excellent performances, '¨Callum McGregor has appeared in 72 of Celtic's last 73 matches, the surest indication of the faith that manager Brendan Rodgers has in the player.
Bournemouth have been sniffing around the 25-year-old and Rodgers has no doubt that he would thrive in the Premier League, which is why he was delighted that the player signed a new contract on Thursday which ties him to Parkhead until 2023.
The Irishman has made it club policy to reward key players with the security of long-term deals and McGregor is merely the latest to re-sign on the dotted line.
“For the club it’s about securing the talents and his development over these last couple of years has been fantastic, you see the technical level he plays at,” said Rodgers.
“He’s got a wonderful insight of the game and he’s becoming a really influential player. When he plays further up he’s a threat to the goal, at left-back he gives us that tactical flexibility and, when he plays as a controlling player, he shifts the game very quickly.
“It’s great news for him and he’s been rewarded for consistent displays at a high level and it’s great news for the club to secure a great talent.”
Rodgers believes that McGregor’s signing is symptomatic of the feelgood factor at the club. The Scotland midfielder claimed that he believes that Celtic are on the brink of “something amazing.”
“We’re in a really exciting era here – it’s a special time at the club that has gone by really quickly,” said Rodgers. “It didn’t seem that long ago I was presenting Scott Brown with his ‘400’ jersey and very quickly it was ‘500’! The games come quick and fast but that roll of honour the players are rolling out in terms of titles and performances has been amazing, and it’s great Callum feels the continuation of that is there.
“He’s at a great age to improve. Kieran Tierney, James Forrest are all boys who are improving and the beauty is they improve because they train every day and the availability to train helps them get better and better.
“They take that confidence into games and winning titles is great for them. I’ll always fight for players and staff for their value and worth.
“Meanwhile, the club is also protecting its assets. It’s not rocket science but it’s nice that a lot of these guys feel improvement and development and that the future of the club is exciting for them.
“Callum can operate at English Premier League level. He’s shown it against the best teams in Europe so there’s no question he’s of that ilk. It’s a great signing for the club.”
Another Scotland midfielder, Stuart Armstrong, left Celtic for Southampton during the summer but there are no hard feelings from his former boss.
“Players are within their rights to look at things,” he said. “Your career is short and sometimes you feel you want to take on a different challenge. Each player is different.
“I would never say Stuart was wrong to jump in and play in the Premier League and James Forrest, Kieran Tierney or Callum staying is the right thing to do; it’s individual choice.
“But these boys have come through the system and know what they have. They feel as if they are still developing and growing and they know there is still time for [England].
“Callum is 25 so, if he wanted to play in the Premier League in the next couple of years, he can still do that but, while he’s developing and winning, he’s happy.”
Celtic have also been boosted by the news that injured trio Dedryck Boyata, Tierney and Odsonne Edouard, who won’t be involved at home to Dundee today, will be available for the crunch games against Aberdeen at Pittodrie and Rangers at Ibrox in the next week.
“Odsonne won’t be available for Dundee but he should be fine for next week,” said Rodgers. “It’s just unfortunate the boy has played more games continuously than what we would ever have wanted.
“We want him fit because, when he’s fit and fresh, he’s a fantastic talent but it gave someone else an opportunity and young Mikey Johnston came in and was great.
“I have options with Ryan Christie back in the squad – he can play up front and there’s one or two others we can be flexible in how we play. Boyata is available for next week and the same with Kieran.”