Celtic battle Newcastle for international defender, ex-Rangers man holds the key

Celtic Parkhead

West Ham and Crystal Palace also interested in Kara Mbodj.

Celtic have joined the race to sign Kara Mbodj, but a former Rangers boss holds the key to his future.

Mbodj plays for Belgian side Racing Genk, where ex-Ger Alex McLeish is currently managing.

Herald Scotland is reporting Celtic's interest in the defender, but it won't just be McLeish who stands in their path.

The Mail claimed earlier this month Newcastle United want the Senegalese international, while West Ham United and Crystal Palace are also linked in the same report as Celtic.

Mbodj is a centre-back who can also play in defensive midfield, an area Celtic need to strengthen, but it's likely McLeish will seek to price them out of the market.

He is said to want as much as £7 million for the in-demand star, who has a contract at Genk until 2018.

Genk have played Mbodj in 17 games this season, all in central defence, and will not let him go easily as they currently sit third in the table in the Jupiler Pro League.

If McLeish sticks to the figure touted then Celtic would only likely move for Mbodj if they landed up deciding to sell Dutchman Virgil van Dijk.

Here Mbodj is scoring a superb goal for Genk last season...

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