Nir Bitton has declared that he is desperate to remain at Celtic beyond the end of his current contract, which expires at the end of the season amid reported Premier League interest – but Leeds United must do everything they can to stop him signing a deal.
Bitton, 28, told the Daily Record after Sunday’s Betfred Cup final win over Rangers that he is keen to sign a new deal at Celtic. It remains to be seen if he will be given a new contract, though he has gained much more game time under Neil Lennon.
Lennon first brought Bitton to Parkhead in 2013 during the manager’s first spell in charge, and he has since gone on to make 200 league and cup appearances for the Scottish champions. He has won a league title in every season he has played for Celtic.
Bitton was asked about his future at Parkhead and is quoted as saying: “It’s something you need to ask Peter Lawwell instead of me. But I love this club and I want to stay. I am settled here, my kids live here, so we will see.”
Last month, The Scottish Sun claimed Premier League side Burnley wanted the Israel international for a cut-price £1million in January. With his contract winding down, a move such as to the Clarets is becoming more and more realistic.
But promotion-chasing Championship side Leeds should join the race for Bitton. That is because they are in need of cover for both Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper – who have both missed games over the last couple of weeks.
Captain Cooper has a tendency to pick up injuries, while Phillips was missing through suspension during the 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday. Leeds need a player that can provide cover in both positions, but on the cheap.
Step forward Bitton, who at £1million is not only a bargain as a midfielder – but also as a centre-back. Brendan Rodgers moulded the former FC Ashdod star into a defender due to a lack of cover at centre-back during his Celtic reign.
Bitton is more than confident in possession and is excellent when passing it, meaning he will fit right at home in Bielsa’s side. He is cheap, versatile and perfect for Bielsa’s style of play. At £1million, Leeds have to consider the Celtic star.