Celtic manager Neil Lennon insists that the club have no intention of selling winger James Forrest in the current transfer window.
The Daily Record reported that Lennon has included the 28-year-old among a group of players who he considers “untouchable“, along with Callum McGregor, Jozo Simunovic, Kristoffer Ajer and Scott Brown.
The Scottish Sun reported that Zenit St Petersburg had been preparing a bid of £12m and weekly wages of £70,000 for Forrest, but the Celtic manager is in no mood to entertain the Russian club’s offer.
The Daily Record quoted Lennon as saying: “We are looking to add to the squad rather than selling any more of our important players and James certainly falls into that category.”
Forrest is the current holder of the PFA Scotland, Scottish Football Writers’ and SPFL Player of the Year awards, testifying to his importance for the Hoops.
His tally of 18 goals in 56 games last season (one per 3.11 games) was bettered only by Odsonne Edouard at Celtic, the French striker netting 22 times in 52 appearances (one per 2.36 games), and he had the highest assists tally at the club in 2018/19 with 20 (one per 2.8 games).
He has scored in each of Celtic’s last three games, including both legs of the Champions League qualifier against CFR Cluj, and has already chipped in with three assists in the Hoops’ two Premiership games so far this season.
Forrest was one of the few players to emerge with credit from last night’s defeat to CFR Cluj, with Read Celtic saying that he was “confident on the ball on the wing and showed superb composure” for his goal.
So far this season, only two players (Ryan Christie with eight goals and Edouard with four) have scored more often for the Hoops, while only Edouard has more assists (four) than Forrest’s three.
Forrest is picking up where he left off last season with a consistent scoring and assists return for Celtic, so it’s easy to see why Lennon has issued a hands-off warning to prospective suitors.
The Hoops have already sold one key player this month in Kieran Tierney, so losing Forrest would likely be another significant blow to the club.
Although the failure to secure Champions League football is set to impact the club’s finances negatively, Lennon must continue to stand firm on his stance with Forrest and not deprive the team of his vital contributions.
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