There is a school of thought to suggest that Callum McGregor is a Celtic captain in waiting. Had things gone in a different direction this summer, however, he could have taken those leadership qualities elsewhere.

The midfielder was wanted by Brendan Rodgers at Leicester this summer with the Parkhead side spurning the advances of their former manager when he came calling for the Scotland internationalist.

It’s fair to suggest that if circumstances had been different – the rawness of Rodgers’ exit was still fresh in the mind – that it may well have been a straightforward passage. Whatever the complexities of the proposal and how tempted McGregor might have been, the player is not the type for public agitation. Instead he committed himself to a five-year deal with Celtic some weeks back with what’s in front rather than what’s behind occupying the focus of the player.

“I know how good this club’s been to me throughout the years and I was definitely looking to stay,” said McGregor. “So it was just a case of trying to get it done as quickly as possible and getting on with focussing on the football.

“I love this club, so it was great to get it done.

“As soon as pre-season starts you’re right into training and then the season comes and you’re playing big games right away, so as a footballer you just concentrate on the football. The club made it clear early on they wanted to keep me, so I was delighted with that and, l like I say, from there it was just about getting it done.”

McGregor was one of a number of players who improved hugely under the tutelage of Rodgers. And the player has acknowledged that he was flattered at the prospect of Rodgers wanting to take him into the English top flight.

“It’s always good to get those kind of compliments, it’s a nice feeling,” said McGregor. “But the club were very keen on me staying, so while what happens is a pat on the back, once the club made their position clear it’s not like I was fighting it or anything.

“I was happy, I wanted to stay.

“To be fair, the English Premier’s probably the best league around, you watch it and the standard’s good and you’d like to test yourself in it, but this is a big, big place to play football too and the European campaign has highlighted that. It’s shown how big we are and how well we’re doing as a group of players.

“I love this club and it’s been very good to me, so you’re not looking to move. I was happy with their stance, so I just got me head down and got on with helping the team.”

Having grown in stature for both Celtic and Scotland, the armband seems like a natural progression for McGregor. It has been passed to him on occasion but long-term it seems increasingly likely that he will sport it.

“For me it’s a wee bit early to be talking about captaincy, but if it happens I’m happy to take it on,” he said. “I feel like I have enough experience within the group to use my voice. If it’s a natural progression, then that’d be great.

“It’s nice to have that experience. For me, it’s always just about enjoying my football and helping the team. I’m always trying to learn from guys like Broony so, again, it’s a nice pat on the back that when he goes off people look to you to be the next leader.

“He sets an unbelievable standard and for me it’s about learning from that every day. His example to the group is really excellent.”

Celtic’s midweek win over Rennes on Thursday evening in the Europa League guarantees the club top spot in Group E regardless of what happens in their final game in Romania against Cluj.

The manner of a campaign in which Celtic have so far taken 13 points from a possible 15 has been impressive. The knockout stages will present a more acute challenge when the games come round in February but McGregor is keen to sustain that exposure.

“It’s important for us to make big strides in Europe, to go one better than we did last time,” he said. “We’ve topped the group, we’re happy with that and now we look forward to finishing it off against Cluj then looking beyond.

“Results have been great, performances have been great, plus we’ve taken a lot from previous campaigns as well - so it feels like it’s all coming together.

“There’s still enough youth in the team, but at the same time we’re more experienced, we’re playing exciting football and we can manage parts of games better. Like, when we went to Lazio, went behind, weathered the storm and ended up getting the winner at the end.”

Leigh Griffiths got the biggest roar of the night when he appeared for the final ten minutes of Thursday night’s win with McGregor optimistic that the striker can get himself back to first-team level.

“It was good to see him on the pitch again against Rennes. He looked that wee bit sharper than at the weekend, so we’re delighted to see him back and we’re looking for him to keep getting minutes.”