Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton has told the Daily Record that a conversation with manager Ronny Deila convinced him to stay in Glasgow.
Bitton, 23, joined Celtic from FC Ashdod in August 2013 having established himself as one of the top midfielders in Israel, but featured in only 20 games in his debut season under Neil Lennon.
This term, Bitton has featured regularly alongside Scott Brown in midfield, playing 36 games and impressing as a powerful defensive midfielder with calm and accurate passing.
Yet whilst fans have been impressed with Bitton this season, the Israeli international has now revealed that he came close to leaving the club in January.
Bitton had been in and out of the side during the first half of the season, and it's only really since the turn of the year that Bitton has become such a key figure under Ronny Deila.
In an interview with the Daily Record, Bitton has admitted that he considered leaving Celtic Park in January in search of first-team football - but was persuaded to stay by Deila in a heart-to-heart conversation.
"In the beginning when I didn’t play, for two or three months I was thinking, ‘Okay, what should I do now to go forward? Maybe move for another challenge’," said Bitton. "I’m a Celtic player but you need to think about yourself when you don’t play. So you think, ‘Where can I go now where I’ll play and get game time? Okay, I’ll move on in January, I’ll find another club’."
"I didn’t think to speak to the manager so that’s what I thought in the beginning. But the easiest thing is to go to the gaffer, ask why, listen, and then try to improve. Afterwards if you see it hasn’t helped, then you can move forward. So I asked for the conversation because, as I said, I was blaming him. It’s the easiest thing to do."
"I’m happy I did it. He explained to me well why I wasn’t playing. It was a lot of things. What was said will stay between us but it came down to what was expected of me. I got the chance to change it and I’m happy that I’ve kept my place in the team," he added.
Many fans will now be glad that Bitton chose to stay at Celtic given his impressive displays in 2015, and it's also a testament to Deila's management that he was able to be honest with his players and help them improve even when out of the side.