BRENDAN Rodgers brought much to Celtic in terms of elevating an expectation level on and off the park for the Parkhead side.

In amongst it all, though, was an insistence that Celtic would never sell their players for anything less than going rate regardless of what league they were in. As Moussa Dembele attracted suitors from his very earlier days in a Celtic shirt, Rodgers went back to this theory time and time again at Celtic that a players’ value was not derivative in where they played but rather than in what they could do.



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Indeed, such was his conviction that as early chat about a £15m offer for Dembele came in during the Frenchman’s first season in Glasgow, Rodgers would only scoff that it might get the striker’s big toe but not the full package.

It will be interesting, then, how things might transpire should there be traction in the theory that Rodgers will chap on Celtic’s door these next few weeks in an attempt to hook up again with Callum McGregor.



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With a contract that has another four years to run at Celtic there is a considerable argument to be made that the midfielder, whom Rodgers inarguably brought out the best in, has all the requirements to go and become a future Celtic captain.

Having already captained his country, been a mainstay in the Parkhead midfield for games of the highest standard at Champions League level and capable of scoring on the big occasion, the chat about £10m for McGregor seems way below the benchmark that Celtic would accept. James Forrest pipped McGregor to the PFA and Scottish Football Writers’ Player of the Year award this term but there is a compelling narrative that McGregor has been the best midfielder in the league.

Olivier Ntcham, courted by Porto last season and still on their wanted list as well as that of Marseille’s, may well go this summer with the expectancy being that he would go for a fee around the £10m mark. Ntcham is a player who has flirted with being a significant influencer in the Celtic midfield at times in the two years he has been at the club but he has never entirely sustained his top levels; there would be little comparison between McGregor and Ntcham for their dominance in Celtic’s central pastures.



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In short, if Rodgers is serious about a move for the 26-year-old, he will have to pay heed to some of his own rhetoric when he was on the other side of the fence.

From McGregor’s point of view, there will surely be a decision to be made if a bid comes to fruition in the coming weeks. The midfielder might fancy that if he is ever to get the chance to play in the English top flight that the chance is now; a season or two down the line and his age starts to become a barrier to such a switch.

And for all that Rodgers sullied himself in the eyes of the Celtic support by the manner of his midnight flit, there remains a considerable loyalty to him within the Parkhead dressing room among players who felt he coaxed out the best football of their careers.

If Dembele’s sale raised the bar for players going out of Celtic, the imminent arrival of David Turnbull seems to have lifted it domestically. All things considered, a combined fee of £3m for the youngster who came to prominence in the latter half of the season would suggest a number of things, the most obvious being that Celtic learned something from the way in which John McGinn slipped out of their hands last summer as he headed to Aston Villa.

Neil Lennon will know himself that the Champions League qualifiers are looming large. It’s unlikely that he would welcome the distraction of impending player sales away from the club distracting him from games that essentially underpin Celtic’s season.

Last season Rodgers used the pre-match press conference for the home game against AEK Athens to lay bare his own anger and frustrations with the Celtic board.



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McGregor, ironically, scored in that home game – a 1-1 draw – but it wasn’t enough to prevent Celtic’s second leg exit following a 3-2 aggregate defeat. It fully revealed the bitter struggle that was going on in the underbelly of the club between the manager and the boardroom and the timing of the outburst derailed Celtic’s quest for a third successive Champions League campaign.

The last thing Lennon will want going into those months and that precarious stage of the qualification process will be to be haggling over players and a quandary over what team exactly he has to put out on the park.

On that front he will want to get his own targets in early but equally he won’t welcome a slow barter over players who have been instrumental to the club’s success in recent seasons dragging on.

If Celtic’s resolve is set to be tested for key players then the price tag should be set early.