CELTIC-bound Lukasz Zaluska last night lifted the lid on his decision to leave Dundee United, and insists he is ready to challenge best friend Artur Boruc for the No1 jersey at Parkhead.
The Tannadice goalkeeper will sign a pre-contract deal with the SPL champions next week after rejecting the chance to stay on Tayside and is set to quadruple his wages as a result.
Zaluska will go head-to-head with fellow Pole Boruc for the main role in Gordon Strachan's side. The pair are close friends from their days together at Legia Warsaw and are regularly seen watching each other when their schedules allow.
United are desperate to hold on to the 27-year-old until the end of the season in order to ensure their team suffers the least amount of change during their battle for third place. Craig Levein's team are currently in joint third with Hearts but having played a game more than the Tynecastle club.
However, it is likely that Strachan will make a cash offer in January to bring the player on board sooner.
Zaluska only became a first-team regular 12 months ago when he recovered from a broken foot sustained early in his United career, but has made such rapid progress that he was recently rewarded with a call-up to the Poland national squad.
Strachan is keen to add the up-and-coming keeper to his staff in order to push Boruc, who has been involved in a series of high-profile blunders this term.
Zaluska said: "I have told Dundee United that I won't be signing a new deal.
"I have not signed for anyone yet, but my agent has been speaking to Celtic. He has spoken to other clubs as well. But moving to Celtic would be a very exciting move, it's a massive club.
"I have ambition to play at the highest level and a move like this would make that possible. I have been in the United team for a year now and I think I am ready for a step up.
"The Champions League is the highest point in club football and that is where everyone wants to play. I think I have the ability for that now. I have been to Celtic Park for Champions League games in the past, I was at the Manchester United game and it was very special.
"I have spoken with Artur and asked him about life in Glasgow. What he said was, 'Okay, come on'. I have asked him about everything.
"Artur has played in Scotland for four years, he's a top goalkeeper. He has helped me a lot, any time I have a problem I speak to him – we are good friends."
Zaluska has yet to be capped by his country, but believes a move to Celtic will bring him a step closer to realising that ambition.
The Pole also heaped praise on United and Levein for the way the club has treated him for the past 18 months. He broke his foot only days before he was supposed to make his debut but made his comeback a year ago.
With United challenging for third place and constantly improving, Zaluska expects to see even more improvement in coming months. He said: "Dundee United have been very good for me and I owe Craig Levein everything for giving me the chance to come to Scotland.
"He is the best manager I have worked with in my career and has helped make me a much better player.
"The club were very good to me when I was injured and I have always had a great relationship with the supporters.
"I will be sad to leave Tannadice when I go, but I am thinking of my family and our future. I hope the fans will understand.
"I am 27 and have not earned much money in my career so I am thinking about my family. I am looking to the future because I maybe have only one or two good contracts left in my life."
Levein insisted the club offered Zaluska the best deal they could, suggesting the player wanted more money to remain on board. "We made Lukasz the best deal we could afford, but he's indicated he'll be leaving in the summer," said Levein.
"Where he's going I don't know and, really, it's irrelevant to us. But he'll be seeing out the rest of his contract here because I'm not in the habit of changing keepers and don't want to disrupt the team.
"I can understand his position because he has the chance to go and make some serious money.
"But, at the same time, I want the Dundee United supporters to know we have done our very best to keep him.
"We made him what I consider to be a very good offer, and the best offer we possibly could, but we couldn't reach agreement."