Deila confirms intention to extend Nir Bitton's Celtic contract, makes bold prediction

Celtic look set to hand midfielder Nir Bitton a new contract.

Celtic manager Ronny Deila has told the Daily Mail that he wants to extend Nir Bitton's contract - before tipping the midfielder to become a 'top European player'.

Bitton, 23, joined Celtic from FC Ashdod in his native Israel back in the summer of 2013, and despite making just 20 appearances in his first season under Neil Lennon, he became a regular under Deila last term, playing 40 games in all competitions for the Bhoys.

Now, the 6ft 5in defensive midfielder is considered to be a key player for Celtic, marshalling the back four by breaking up play and keeping possession ticking over efficiently.

Given his superb performances under Deila over the last year, Celtic now want to extend the midfielder's contract before it's current expiration of 2017.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Deila admitted that he wants to keep Bitton at Celtic Park for a 'long time' - and predicted that Bitton could follow in the footsteps of Fraser Forster and Virgil van Dijk in becoming a 'top European player'.

"Nir Bitton is a player we want to have here for a long time, so of course he is one that we are looking at keeping," said Deila. "But we are looking at everyone’s contract. We have control over that. The process is not done in one day. It takes time and you have to do it in the right way.

"But (chief executive) Peter Lawwell and I have a lot of experience in these situations. We know what to do and when to start it. We have quite a few players here who can get better and who have the potential to get up to the levels of Forster or Van Dijk. Nir certainly has the possibility to be a top European player and he is taking steps all the time. I think he can make it," he added.

Celtic have lost the likes of Forster, Van Dijk and Victor Wanyama in recent years, with all three moving to English football with Southampton having proven themselves in Scotland.

If Bitton continues to keep up his superb performances, there is no reason why the Israeli international can't go on to do the same and become a star in the Premier League - but Celtic are rightly desperate to get him tied down to a new contract before he enters the final 18 months of his deal.

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