TO paraphrase the song, it appears that Celtic’s Callum McGregor is here for 10 in-a-row. At least, that is his aim.

The midfielder put pen to paper on yet another contract extension yesterday, taking his commitment to the club – on paper at least – up until the summer of 2023. And there is little room to doubt that commitment.

The 25-year-old has been at Celtic since he was nine. I recently spoke to a former youth teammate of his, and he was waxing lyrical about McGregor. His alumni always had him marked out as the one that was destined for the first-team.

It hasn’t always been a smooth road. A drink-driving charge hot on the heels of a speeding charge a couple of years back made headlines for all the wrong reasons, but those off-field problems seem firmly in the past.

On the field, it seems wild these days to believe that anyone had ever doubted the contribution he could make to either club or country. And yet, despite clocking up over 200 appearances for Celtic, he has just nine Scotland caps to his name.

With Gordon Strachan, who for some bizarre reason continually overlooked McGregor for the national side now gone, he has become one of the men that current manager Alex McLeish is building our Euro 2020 hopes around. And quite right too.

In my opinion, McGregor is the most technically gifted Scot currently playing football and has blossomed into the most complete player in the league. All of that development has taken place at Celtic, and has accelerated under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. Which raises an interesting question about the merits of players taking the well-trodden golden path to the obscene fortunes on offer in the English Premier League at the first possible opportunity.

Make no mistake, McGregor would have gotten his opportunity sooner rather than later had he not extended his current deal, which appears to be as much about fending off potential suitors like Bournemouth as it is about rewarding the player for his impressive consistency.

The narrative over the last decade or more has been that almost any English club, with their troughs flowing over with television cash, could pick off the best Scottish talent at will. Even from our biggest clubs.

Like it or not, a mid-ranking EPL side like Bournemouth – with their 11,000-seater stadium – can comfortably outbid Celtic for players and outstrip their wage-bill. So, what is keeping players like McGregor, James Forrest and Kieran Tierney at Celtic, when the prevailing wisdom suggests these players should be looking to test themselves at what we are told is the highest level?

Well, love for a club may seem like a quaint notion these days, but their affinity for Celtic is playing its part. If you have grown up a Celtic fan, then the pull of playing in front of that crowd every other week must be a strong one.

There is the ‘Rodgers factor’ to consider, and speaking to McGregor yesterday, you got the feeling that the same magnet which has drawn the manager in is the one that is pulling at their homegrown talent – the chance to make history.

In the summer, when Everton were sniffing around Tierney, I felt it was a matter of time before the young left-back would be bound for Merseyside. And yet, he is still here. When Bournemouth were linked with McGregor – yes, even Bournemouth – it again felt almost inevitable that Celtic could do little to resist the financial muscle of such a relative historical minnow. But resist they have.

Tierney, McGregor and Forrest could all cut it in England. So too, as he has proved in the past, could their manager. And with football being such a short career, anyone who blames them if they swap Celtic for the EPL would be being extremely churlish.

But from the outside, perhaps the opportunity – still a little distant , or course - of having your name etched into the Celtic record books alongside the squad that achieved an unprecedented tenth league title in a row has been underestimated.

As long as they can hang onto these talents, the possibility of them getting there remains not only possible, but likely. And as long as that carrot is dangling there tantalisingly for the players, perhaps they can do just that.


IT is perhaps understandable, although a little unfortunate for the fans who forked out £28 to see it, that Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson effectively went into the match against Celtic on Wednesday night with one hand tied behind his back.

By fielding a weakened team and prioritising the upcoming fixtures against St Mirren, Kilmarnock and Hamilton though, it is now imperative that he gets a good return from those matches, or he might find that the fans who paid top dollar to watch half a second string being swept aside might not be as forgiving.

He will hope to be vindicated come the winter break.