Were you to ask the fans who they’d most like to see sign a new deal this summer then Callum McGregor’s name would have been somewhere near the top of many wish lists.
To have secured the captain – as well as Japanese duo Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda – for the long haul is an exceptional piece of business by the club.
Not only does it protect against any forthcoming bids, it also ensures Brendan Rodgers heads into his comeback season safe in the knowledge that his key players are content with their new deals, and are fully behind his return to the club.
CLIMBING THE TABLE
McGregor heads into the new campaign on the back of securing his 18th, 19th and 20th major honours as a Celtic player during the 2022/23 season.
It’s a phenomenal trophy haul for any player and only four players in Celtic’s history have achieved more.
Bobbly Lennox (25 major honours), Billy McNeil (23), McGregor’s predecessor Scott Brown (22) and current team-mate James Forrest who also sits on 22.
That McGregor could rise even further up that table in the season ahead is a distinct possibility.
That he will overtake them all by the expiry of his new contract in 2028 is almost certain.
(Granted that Lennox and McNeill can count the greatest prize of all – the European cup – amongst their numbers).
30’S THE NEW 20
Having turned 30 in June some eyebrows may have been raised at the length of his new deal, but like Scott Brown before him, the captain shows no signs of slowing down as he enters the next phase of his career in the Hoops.
Discussing the new deal Brendan Rodgers was glowing in his praise of his skipper.
“He’s the heartbeat of this team. He’s taken on the responsibility of being captain of a worldwide institution with great effect and we’ll look to continue that development.
At 30 years of age he’s still got a lot that he can win and still lots of improvements to make, and I know that he’s hungry to do that.”
Some players look to wind down the clock on their playing career as they enter their fourth decade, but not McGregor.
If anything you get the impression that he’s just getting started, such was the enthusiasm shown when talking to Celtic TV about his future plans.
If you’re unsure about just how important McGregor is to Rodgers’ plans then picture for a minute the huge gap that would have been left had he followed Ange Postecoglou to Spurs or Jota to Saudi Arabia.
It’s not an overstatement to suggest that he’s irreplaceable in Celtic’s current set-up, such is his influence on and off the park.
Yes we were disappointed by Jota’s recent exit, and rightly so.
The Portuguese star was a standout during his time at Celtic Park and provided many moments of magic during his two-year stay, but the winger may prove notably easier to replace than someone of McGregor’s stature, given the leadership, determination and winning mentality that he has in spades.
NEW SQUAD SET TO TAKE SHAPE
So with McGregor, Kyogo and Maeda committing themselves to Celtic for the foreseeable future, who’ll be joining them in Brendan Rodgers’ new look squad?
That’s something we don’t yet have the answers to, but now that the business of securing these key players has been taken care of, there should be some space in Michael Nicholson’s diary for signing up the next batch of stars to take Celtic Park by storm.
Odin Thiago Holm and Marco Tilio are already on-board, and the expectation is that the club will soon be adding to that as they flex their financial muscle in the coming weeks.
As the case with Callum McGregor proves however, sometimes the best signings of all are the ones that don’t cost you a penny!
Listen to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly here as we discuss The Captain’s Commitment, Celtic’s Striking Options & THAT Jota Farewell.
Available wherever you get your podcasts, by clicking the player below, or by listening here at The Celtic Exchange website.