If they could help if, Celtic would surely rather not lose Stuart Armstrong to the bright lights of the Premier League this summer. The dynamic midfielder was arguably their most impressive player in 2016/17, scoring 17 goals in all competitions as Celtic won a domestic treble without losing a single game.
However, with the Daily Record claiming that Brighton and Southampton are hoping to lure Armstrong away from Parkhead, it doesn’t help Celtic’s bargaining position that the 25-year-old only has a year remaining on his contract.
Armstrong enjoyed the finest season of his career in 2016/17
In short, the Glasgow giants could either sell Armstrong now for a reported £10 million or face losing him for free next summer. This is a dilemma the club, and manager Brendan Rodgers, would rather avoid.
As such, the Daily Record claims Celtic are hoping to convince Armstrong to sign a new deal on the proviso that they will let him leave next summer if an offer comes in. That way, Armstrong gets his move and Celtic get a respectable fee for a midfielder surely set for a prolonged stay in the Scotland national team. Everybody wins.
If the former Dundee United star agrees to Celtic’s plan, it would be difficult to argue against the opinion that the Scottish champions have played the situation perfectly. Losing Armstrong now would be a huge blow with the new season around the corner and a crucial Champions League qualifier with Rosenberg on the horizon.
However, agreeing to let Armstrong leave next summer, and the guarantee of a transfer fee, means Celtic could put time and energy into choosing a replacement. There would be no need for a panic buy, more a calm and considered approach.
Perhaps the likes of John McGinn, the Hibernian midfielder who is valued at £5 million now but will be available on a free in 12 months’ time, as reported by the Daily Record, could step up to replace Armstrong with a year of top flight football under his belt.
McGinn has won three caps for Scotland