Rumours continue to swirl about the intentions of our central defender Dedryck Boyata. Will he leave in January on a big money deal, or leave in the summer on a free? Those are the options people regard as most likely. The media in particular has written off the prospect of anything else. But are they right to?
I have a sneaking feeling about this one, a feeling that we’re in for a surprise.
I believe Boyata is at least considering staying at Celtic and part of that is the statement his father made the other day warning young players not to move for money, and to appreciate the clubs they are at if those clubs are giving them the one thing a player wants most; regular football.
But it goes deeper than that. Boyata wanted to stay last season, and there was talk that he was on the verge of putting pen to paper on a new deal. Something happened over the summer, and I can’t help but think that the disillusionment the manager felt leapt, for a time, into the first team squad.
Now a rash of player have committed to new contracts. The whole focus of the club appears to be geared towards doing the business on the pitch again … the atmosphere around Celtic has markedly improved from those weeks we all remember as being pretty dark.
There was an issue with Boyata, starting with a number of statements his agent made to the press. I think it is worth noting that. All that stuff came from his agent; at no time did Boyata himself ever say a negative thing about Celtic in the media.
That period culminated in his “going on strike” for the match in Athens, which this website lacerated him for.
I said he should never pull on the Hooped shirt again.
But the manager is no mug. He spoke to Boyata and whatever was said, it appears to have given him the reassurance he needed about the player’s commitment. Boyata has barely been out of the starting line-up since, and his performances have never been less than stellar. Had Boyata signed a new deal at the start of the last campaign the fans would have reacted with utter indifference. If he signs one now, the supporters will be over the moon.
I believe that the way Brendan has handled this has been a triumph of man management.
One of the guest writers on the blog, Ross McAtasney, did a piece on this subject at the start of this week and I thought he was spot on. If Boyata stays it will be because the manager and the club have done the right thing at every step of the way.
Boyata’s agent may not think the player owes us anything. Most people would say the same. But I do believe he has some making up to do. Had we let him leave for Fulham he would, right now, be sorely regretting moving there. He can be a big player at most clubs, but we made him a footballer and a three year contract extension would give him plenty of time to go elsewhere if he wants to do that in a couple of year’s time.
I hear rumours about this all the time … if even one of them is right the player hasn’t ruled this out.
In the meantime, he knows there are things to be done here and history to make. History. The good kind. The sort he won’t get anywhere else. Boyata knows what our club is. The way he’s done the business since the early season problems has impressed me and I thought I was beyond being impressed by anything he did.
He can turn the whole thing around by committing to our club for a few more years.
And you know what?
I’m starting to think that he will.
You can discuss this and and all the other stories by signing up at the Celtic Noise forum at the above link. This site is one of the three that has pushed for the forum and we urge all this blog’s readers to join it. Show your support for real change in Scottish football, by adding your voice to the debate.