Pundit Noel Whelan has commended Celtic and their manager Neil Lennon for convincing Callum McGregor to sign a contract extension with the club and ensuring that his long-term future will be at Parkhead.
Celtic announced on their official website earlier this month that the 26-year-old had signed a new five-year contract to keep him at the club until 2024.
The midfielder is a firm favourite of Lennon, having started all but one game so far this season, and ex-Aberdeen striker Whelan believes that Celtic have done the right thing in securing his future at the club in the face of summer interest from Leicester (as per Daily Record).
He told Football Insider: “It’s brilliant news for Celtic and their fans to tie McGregor down. He’s made huge strides in the last few seasons and is now a key player for club and country.
“He’s so good that Neil Lennon feels he can’t afford to rest him or leave him out for any match, which tells you everything.
“Celtic are really good at looking after their best players and getting them on long-term contracts. Obviously, there was interest in McGregor from Leicester in the summer and no doubt a few other Premier League clubs. He’s easily good enough to play in the Premier League, so well done to Celtic and Lennon for keeping him.”
It’s little wonder that Whelan has voiced his approval of Celtic’s decision to extend McGregor’s contract by five years, given how integral a presence he is to Lennon’s side.
He has started 26 out of the Hoops’ 27 games so far this season, playing from first whistle to last in all but two of those, substantiating Whelan’s point about the manager very rarely omitting or substituting him. He made his 250th appearance for the club in last week’s win over Motherwell.
With 2,325 minutes of action at club level already in 2019/20, he has played the most of anyone in Celtic’s squad, a feat that is all the more impressive in the context of a marathon 2018/19 campaign.
As noted by celticfc.net, he played an extraordinary total of 5,894 minutes across 69 matches for Celtic and Scotland last season – more game-time than any other player in world football.
His influence on the team is also reflected by him having the highest passing success rate (88.2%) of anyone to have started a Europa League game for the Hoops this season, while only Scott Brown (53.5) has a higher average of passes per game than McGregor’s 53. [via WhoScored]
As a midfielder with a solid goal return and plentiful passing ability, as well as tremendous stamina given his mammoth amount of minutes played, the 26-year-old is evidently a key presence in Celtic’s line-up, and Whelan has understandably backed the club’s proactive nature in securing his future at the club.
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