Celtic warned they will have to pay 'silly money' for Stuart Armstrong

Dundee United Tannadice

Celtic are among those said to be keen on Dundee United midfielder Stuart Armstrong, but have been told they will have to dig deep to secure his services.

Celtic certainly boast the greatest spending power in Scotland, but that does not mean that they can cherry-pick the best of the talent from their domestic rivals.

If they wish to acquire the services of those shining elsewhere, they will have to pay the ‘going rate’ and fend off interest from afar.

That is the warning fired in the direction of Parkhead by Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara.

He is aware that Celtic are among those keeping a close eye on Stuart Armstrong, with Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon also said to be keen.

McNamara has, however, made it clear to any potential suitors that ‘silly money’ will have to be tabled in order to open transfer talks, with the 22-year-old midfielder tied to his current employers for another 18 months.

He said in the Daily Record: “We would want the going rate. We don’t need to sell anybody, we’re debt free, everything is good.

“If the right offer came in I’m sure the chairman and board would look at it. But the most important thing is to keep them here, let them progress and learn.

“We would like to have done that with Andrew Robertson and Ryan Gauld but there comes a point when it’s too good to turn down, not just for the club but for the kids themselves.

“Silly money changes everything. Every team in Scotland is a selling club. Speculation has been part of it since I came here and it will be until the end of January when the window closes. It’s a compliment to the players, it’s nice for them to be linked.

“But for the manager it doesn’t help. Last year it wasn’t one or two, it was six or seven. And we lost a couple mentally for a few weeks because of that.”

Armstrong was on target against Celtic on Sunday as he helped Dundee United stun the reigning champions at Tannadice.

Ronny Deila’s desire to bring him on board is likely to have increased on the back of that showing, but he will be aware that he is not the only runner in the race.

Several English clubs have been linked with Armstrong in the recent past, with Southampton and Burnley among the Premier League sides credited with holding an interest.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch