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Celtic insist Callum McGregor is not for sale as Napoli join Arsenal in the race for Kieran Tierney

Celtic have issued a hands-off warning to potential suitors for Callum McGregor as Napoli prepare to rival Arsenal in the bidding for full-back Kieran Tierney.

Arsenal failed with an initial £15million bid for Tierney last week but are expected to try again, while Napoli are understood to be readying a higher offer as demand for the Scotland international defender intensifies.

McGregor, too, is a wanted man and former Parkhead boss Brendan Rodgers believes the midfielder would be an excellent addition to his Leicester City squad for next season.

Celtic have issued a hands-off warning to potential suitors for Callum McGregor

Celtic have issued a hands-off warning to potential suitors for Callum McGregor

Rodgers moulded McGregor into a key player during his two-and-a-half years in charge but has been told that Celtic would welcome no approach for the 26-year-old, forcing him to take a step back.

Ex-Liverpool boss Rodgers is also an admirer of Tierney but will not consider a move for the left-back unless his own club decide to sell England defender Ben Chilwell during the current transfer window.

That leaves Arsenal and Napoli in the hunt for a player who Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell rates in the £25m bracket.

That price tag scared off Everton last summer and it remains to be seen if either Unai Emery at Arsenal or Napoli chief Carlo Ancelotti will be prepared to go so high in order to land the 22-year-old.

Tierney refused to agitate for a transfer a year ago but the lure of playing for a top-six club in England could tempt him, provided Celtic are happy with the package on offer.

Napoli are understood to be readying an offer for Kieran Tierney amid Arsenal's interest

Napoli are understood to be readying an offer for Kieran Tierney amid Arsenal’s interest

Arsenal might be willing to throw in a player or two to sweeten the deal for Celtic, but Parkhead manager Neil Lennon insists none of his men will be sold off cheaply, especially to the cash-rich Premier League.

‘I would be surprised if there were no bids for a number of players here,’ said Lennon. ‘Even if they are mid-table clubs, they have plenty of money and they are playing in the Premier League.

‘There is big money being quoted for players down there and Kieran is as good as them, if not better.

‘I would be very surprised if we don’t get offers for him – let’s put it that way.’ The transfer interest in Tierney notwithstanding, Lennon is in immediate need of reinforcements at full-back.

News of Mikael Lustig’s departure for Gent has confirmed a vacancy at right-back while, on the other side, Emilio Izaguirre’s exit has removed the club of cover for Tierney, who underwent a double hernia operation at the end of the season.

Danish defender Peter Ankersen is in the frame, while a move for free agent Adam Matthews, a player well known to Lennon and Celtic, would provide cover for both sides.

Asked specifically about Matthews, Lennon responded: ‘I’m not going to talk about any players until they are sitting next to me. I can’t talk about players who may or may not come.

‘Kieran is rehabbing at the moment. Left-back is a position we are looking to strengthen. We need cover there – there’s no question about that. Again, we have a few options, plates spinning.

‘He needs a hand. Kieran has played a lot of football over the four years he’s been on the scene.’ 

Tierney and McGregor will both fly out to Austria on Sunday with their team-mates for a pre-season training camp – and it is expected that David Turnbull will be among the travelling party.

Tierney and McGregor will both fly out to Austria on Sunday with team-mates for pre-season

Tierney and McGregor will both fly out to Austria on Sunday with team-mates for pre-season

Celtic face FK Sarajevo in the Champions League qualifiers and Lennon hopes to have more faces in before the new season kicks off on July 9.

‘I think at least four before we play that first game,’ added Lennon. ‘We have one in, David Turnbull, so another three. We are a bit light, thin in some positions, which we’ve known for a while.

‘We are working on the hour, every hour. We speak to agents, to Peter (Lawwell) and we have Nick (Hammond) coming on July 1. He has a great resume, experience and contacts. It’s all well.’ Hammond, a former technical director at West Brom, has been hired on a short-term basis to take up the slack left by the departure of former head of recruitment Lee Congerton to Leicester.

Celtic’s transfer business has generated a lot of heat this summer, from the leaking of an old recruitment meeting memo to the protracted pursuit of Turnbull that effectively saw the club issue a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to the player via the medium of Twitter.

Lennon, who abandoned his own social media profile some time ago, insists he finds it easy to switch off from the noise.

‘It’s really easy to ignore it,’ he continued. ‘We know what we are doing. We’re dead conscientious about our work. If we weren’t up to speed with things, then subconsciously it would eat away at you. However, we are working feverishly in the background to get the right players in.

‘I am not on social media. I can lock myself away up here at Lennoxtown for hours on end, blissfully unaware and getting on with my work.

‘The football environment has changed with social media but I have to realise that it’s not real. My reality is here with the players, with the board and with my staff. All the rest of it is noise.’

 

Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7171065/Celtic-insist-Callum-McGregor-not-sale-Napoli-join-Arsenal-race-Kieran-Tierney.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

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