It appeared certain that Nir Bitton would be forced to bid farewell to Celtic this summer.
Furthermore, following the arrivals of highly-rated young midfielders Olivier Ntcham and Kundai Benyu from Manchester City and Ipswich Town respectively, not to mention the January signing of Kouassi Eboue and the rise of Callum McGregor, Bitton continued to tumble down the club’s central midfield pecking order.
His prospects looked bleak. Until, however, injuries to Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata handed Bitton a surprise reprieve – in an unfamiliar centre-half role. Blessed with natural height and superb distribution, the 25-year-old started league wins against Hearts and Partick Thistle and now appears to be back in Rodgers’ good books.
Whether Bitton’s revival in a new role means he will stick around for the long haul remains to be seen, however. The Daily Record reports that there are plenty of suitors across Europe for Bitton’s signature.
And reports in the Daily Record stating that Celtic are considering a move for South African international defender Rivaldo Coetzee threaten to bring a swift end to Bitton’s renaissance.
The report claims that the 20-year-old, who has already won 22 caps for his country, is hoping to leave Ajax Cape Town this summer and Celtic are keeping close tabs on the situation.
Coetzee is a cultured, classy centre-half renowned for his intelligent positional sense and excellent technical ability. In many ways, he is a typical Rodgers defender.
And, should he settle quickly to life in Scotland, Coetzee would surely replace Bitton in the back four, relegating the languid performer back to the bench.