BRENDAN Rodgers has opened up on his failed pursuit of Celtic captain Callum McGregor at Leicester City for the first time and insisted the Scotland midfielder is capable of playing for a top six club in the Premier League in England. 

Rodgers admitted that he had attempted to sign McGregor, who was a key member of the double treble-winning team he managed during his first spell at Parkhead, after he moved to Leicester City back in 2019.

The Northern Irishman, who was confirmed as Ange Postecoglou’s replacement earlier this week, felt the departure of Kieran Tierney for Arsenal in a Scottish record £25m transfer fee around the same time meant that he was unable to land his target.

However, he confessed that he is pleased he could not secure the services of the man who replaced Scott Brown as Celtic skipper in 2021 now that he has returned to the East End of Glasgow. 

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“Yes, I was keen to get him,” said Rodgers. “At the time you had Callum and Kieran. Certainly whichever one went then the other one was never going to get away. Obviously, Kieran was the one who left.

“Callum for me was someone who was perfect for the Premier League. He could come in and impose how I wanted to play and understand how I wanted to work, could play in different positions. He’s tactically brilliant. But I’m really glad he stayed now! I’m very happy he’s the captain.

“There’s no question I rate him highly. People talk about Broony and say that he’d never cope in the Premier League. What my experiences of both leagues tell me is he’d have played in a top six team in the Premier League and Callum is the same.”

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He added: “They stay here, their happiness is here. Sometimes it’s different to coaches because from a coaching perspective it’s the challenge of working against top coaches and top teams.

“For him, he’s really happy here and really progressed in my first time. He’s continued to progress and now he’s so important for his club and his country. For me, he could fit into any of those top teams because he can play football.”

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Meanwhile, Rodgers has revealed that Celtic assistant manager John Kennedy had sounded him out about joining Postecoglou at Spurs when the Greek-Australian coach attempted to take the Scot to London with him.

The former Watford, Reading, Swansea City, Liverpool and Leicester City manager had not been approached by the Scottish champions at the time and offered Kennedy his advice on the potential move over dinner.

But the 50-year-old made keeping the former centre half a priority when he was asked to take over and stressed the former Scotland internationalist will have a prominent role on his backroom team in the coming months.  

“I spoke to John on it (joining Postecoglou at Spurs) initially,” he said. “But at that time I wasn’t in discussion with Celtic. We were close relations and I helped him when I was here and I’ve always been there for him.

“We had a meal there a number of weeks back, myself, him and Woodsy (goalkeeping coach Stevie). When he spoke to me I was aware of his situation, but as soon as I realised there was a possibility to come back here I made sure to call him.”

Rodgers continued: “For me he’s very underrated. First and foremost, he’s a top guy, very humble. But he works tirelessly. He’s got great innovation as a coach, I can trust him.

“When I first came in here I did virtually a lot of the coaching for that first year so everyone could see the philosophy and how we would work.

“But I know I can come in here and trust it to let him control that aspect of it. Whilst I set the vision and the strategy and will coach I know he will understand exactly where I’m at because of our relationship and how we worked before. I’m really happy he decided to stay.”