The 29-year-old Danish internationalist is out of contract in the summer and the Dutch club have decided to cash in on him in the upcoming transfer window. Valued at £3m, Utrecht are expected to accept a fraction of that price next month.
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Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham have all been credited with an interest, but Foeke Booy, Utrecht’s technical director, claims Celtic have emerged as favourites for Silberbauer’s signature, having watched him in recent weeks. “We are waiting to see what will happen,” Booy told the Dutch media. “There are several clubs interested in Michael.”
Michael Johansen, Silberbauer’s agent, declined to comment, but a source close to the player revealed he is aware Celtic are monitoring his situation and hopes to explore the possibility of moving to Glasgow in the coming weeks.
“There has been no direct contact between Michael and Celtic, but he has been told they are interested in him,” said the source. “There are clubs from England and other countries looking at him, but he would be interested in a move to Celtic. They are a famous European club and it would be a good transfer for Michael at this stage, so he would be willing to speak to them.”
Neil Lennon is well aware of Silberbauer’s ability, with the versatile midfielder instrumental in Utrecht’s Europa League success over Celtic earlier this season. The Dane also faced Lennon in the Champions League in 2006 while playing for FC Copenhagen.
With Scott Brown and Beram Kayal edging back to full fitness, Lennon has an abundance of options in midfield. However, Ki Sung-Yueng will miss the January fixtures due to Asian Cup commitments and the Celtic manager may also feel opportunity to purchase a player of Silberbauer’s pedigree for a reduced fee is too good to refuse.
In recent weeks, Lennon has bemoaned the lack of experience in his squad and admitted he is seeking to bring in more “leaders”. According to Michael Mols, the former Rangers striker, Silberbauer possesses all the qualities the Celtic manager is looking for.
“I have watched Michael for many years and he has emerged as a top-class midfielder,” said Mols, who had two spells with Utrecht. “He is a clever player, a leader and he knows when to fire the team up and when to calm them down.
“Michael likes to tackle. If the game is flat, he will put in a hard tackle and look for a reaction from the players and fans. But likewise if the game is becoming too heated and players are losing composure he can step in and make sure everyone is focused. Having watched Celtic this season, he would make a big difference. If Lennon wants a leader on the pitch, Michael is the ideal man.
“The biggest compliment I can pay him is that Utrecht are half the team when he isn’t playing. His influence is massive. Utrecht have a lot of young players and they all look up to Michael. He leads by example on and off the pitch. He is a solid professional and the type of player who would improve any team. Michael isn’t flashy. He would never be regarded as the star man or the most skilful. However, ask the Utrecht players who the most important player is and they would all say Michael.”