Saturday 14 December 2019

Commons heading for Celtic exit over contract wrangle

Kris Commons wants the security of a long-term deal. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Kris Commons wants the security of a long-term deal. Photo: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Roddy Forsyth

Kris Commons - Celtic's top scorer last season - looks set to head for England in January in search of job security.

The 31-year-old midfielder's agent is still in negotiation with the club but a significant sticking point is thought to be the length of deal Celtic are prepared to offer a player in the later stages of his career.

Ronny Deila, whose players will qualify for the knockout stage of the Europa League tonight if they beat Salzburg at Celtic Park, admitted that a long-term offer is unlikely because of the player's age.

"We have to do the right things for the club and provide for the interests of the club," said the manager.

"The length is something we always have to look at because when you get older, a long contract is a danger for the club.

"It's good for the player. If we keep them fit all the time and motivated it's no problem, but you never know what will happen in a year.

"He has his demands and we have our things that are important as well. As I've been told, they have to come back to us now with an answer to what we have offered and take it from there."

Limited

Commons has made 16 appearances this season, scoring five goals, and although his contribution has been limited by an injury which kept him out for six weeks, there have been clear signs that it has not been easy for him to adjust to the high-tempo pressing game favoured by Deila.

"International football now needs 11 players who have to run hard," said Deila. "Kris has skills which are unbelievably important. He is very creative, he is a goalscorer and has good relations with the players around him.

"His defence play is something he has to develop like the others."

When the subject of reports linking Commons with Bolton Wanderers and Leicester City was raised, Deila said: "That doesn't surprise me. Every player here will get that in the newspaper if they want to. John Guidetti, I think, is one other clubs will want as well."

Asked if Deila knew of clubs seeking Guidetti's signature, Deila replied: "No, do you? If he gets an offer, that's something else."

In the meantime, Celtic must focus on getting a result against Salzburg that would avert an awkward finale to their group campaign. The Austrians lead Group D and, with a two-point advantage over Celtic, are favourites to qualify as leaders, which would keep them clear of the drop-ins from the Champions League who turn up in the next round of the Europa League.

If Celtic equal or better Dinamo Zagreb's result away to Astra Giurgiu, the Scottish league leaders will qualify. If Celtic lose and Dinamo win in Romania, the issue will be settled in the final group fixture in Zagreb on December 11.

Celtic face a Salzburg side unbeaten in eight Europa League away games and who are top scorers in the group stage with 13 goals.

Celtic had the chance to guarantee their progress from the group in the previous fixture away to Astra Giurgiu but the habit of failing to hold on to a lead, which has been notable in Europe, cost them again in a 1-1 draw.

"We are going to go out hard and try to get the first goal as we have done in many games in Europe this year but we also have to be disciplined and aware for 90 minutes," said Deila.

Scott Brown emphasised Salzburg's menace when the Celtic captain said of the 2-2 draw in Austria two months ago: "They came at us in fours and fives. Barcelona press you for four or five seconds but then they retreat. Salzburg press you all the time and do not give you a minute. We've been working on closing gaps down."

If Celtic can emulate their last Europa League home outing - the 1-0 win over Dinamo - they will have posted their first tangible achievement under Deila. Intriguingly, it was Commons who was the difference between the sides on that occasion. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Celtic v Salzburg, live, Setanta Irl, 8.00pm

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