According to a recent report from The Daily Mail, Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata is attracting intense interest from south of the border. The 27-year-old has enjoyed a fine spell at the Scottish giants since leaving Manchester City back in 2015, and was rewarded for his efforts by Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, who selected him in his World Cup squad for the recent tournament, with Boyata appearing three times for the semi-finalists.
And Premier League side Fulham are reportedly keen on luring the £1.8 million-rated star (as per Transfermarkt) away from Parkhead this summer, and were Bhoys boss Brendan Rodgers to indeed sanction such a move, it would leave Celtic’s Champions League hopes in tatters.
Ultimately, while the majority of football fans were enjoying the latter stages of the World Cup in Russia last month, Rodgers and his Celtic side were busy preparing for the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, with the Bhoys needing to get through three and indeed a play-off to reach the group stages.
Arguably, Celtic’s season would be over before it really began were they to lose in any of those rounds and thus fail to make the group stages, which makes the opening few weeks of the season, weeks in which the majority of sides are still on pre-season, as crucial as any for Rodgers and his team.
And given the central defensive crisis currently at Celtic Park, 27-year-old Boyata is absolutely crucial to the former Liverpool chief, especially in the immediate future of their Champions League qualification given they face AEK Athens twice in the next seven days, and then a play-off in the succeeding weeks should they go.
The Belgian ace appeared 39 times in all competitions last term as Celtic clinched a second successive domestic treble, adding to the 22 appearances he made the campaign before in what was Rodgers first in charge of the Bhoys – clearly, he’s a key part of the squad at Parkhead.
And he’s an even bigger part of the squad now after a fine World Cup campaign, in which Boyata started all three of their group stage matches as Martinez’s men picked up three wins out of three in Group G, although he then didn’t feature in their run to the last four.
Nonetheless, it’s clear that the centre back is a hugely influential member of the Bhoys squad, and while in the long term Rodgers could be tempted to cash in on the 27-year-old, given he is out of contract in 12 months’ time, doing so now would seriously jeopardise their Champions League hopes given the injury crisis in the centre of defence.
In fact, Celtic’s Champions League hopes could well be in tatters if Rodgers and the club’s hierarchy allow Boyata to leave for Fulham before the English transfer deadline on Thursday.
Celtic fans… what do you think? Let us know!