Gordon in line for a bumper pay packet
BRENDAN RODGERS, the Celtic manager, has intimated that Craig Gordon will be in line for a significant hike in salary as the Parkhead side reiterated that the Scotland internationalist will not be sold before the end of the January transfer window, write Alison McConnell and Stewart Weir.
However, Herald Sport understands that representatives of Gordon met in Glasgow yesterday with Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell. And, while they are aware of rumours about a new contract with the Scottish champions for Gordon, they also expect Chelsea to make another offer for the 34-yearold goalkeeper.
At that point, Gordon – highly rated by Chelsea coach Antonio Conte because of his international and Champions League experience – is likely to ask Celtic for permission to speak to the Stamford Bridge side, to ascertain
the financial package, so heaping pressure on manager Rodgers and the club ahead of the Tuesday’s deadline.
Chelsea had an offer for the former Hearts and Sunderland goalkeeper rejected this week as they seek a replacement for Asmir Begovic, who is in line for a £12m switch to Bournemouth.
However, while speculation over Gordon’s future intensified, yesterday, when asked if he expected the player to still be in Glasgow after Tuesday night’s window closes, Rodgers was unambiguous with his response.
“Absolutely,” said the Celtic manager. “Because the strength is with the club. There are 18 months left here and where do I get another goalkeeper at this stage, when I am looking to build something?
“It’s been a long, hard road for Craig in the opening period here to get to the level where I wanted him to be at but he took it on board, trained hard and he understood it. I’m not really of the mindset to throw that out and be left having to look for another Champions League goalkeeper. At the minute, there is no choice. It’s hypothetical.”
Gordon is contracted to Celtic until June 2018 but the keeper can expect to be in line for a bumper new deal over the coming weeks as Rodgers looks to hang on to him.
“Craig is enjoying it here but as a club we have to look after him as well,” he said. “That’s the message. I always say, ‘Look after the roof when it’s sunny. Don’t wait to fix it when it’s raining’. The best clubs do that. Craig is in a brilliant position now. He’s in pole position. This is the best place for Craig but like I have always said, it’s about game-time and money.”
Rodgers called Gordon into the club when Thursday’s bid, believed to be well below Celtic’s valuation, was rejected and he believes the goalkeeper’s priority is to play football. Gordon missed two seasons through serious injury and while there was an acknowledgement that the deal on offer at Chelsea would be enticing, the Celtic manager maintains there are other aspects of the game that motivate the player.
“I have spoken to him at length,” said Rodgers. “He’s a good guy. I was only aware of it yesterday so I sent him a message and said come in, let’s have a chat. He’s cool and calm. It’s nice and flattering for him. Listen, he also respects the position he was in a few years ago.
“He wasn’t playing, Celtic gave him an opportunity and I think in the last six months his game I think everyone can see has gone to another level, he has regained his international place. Chelsea is a fantastic club but it’s also about what you want and for him now it has to be about playing and playing games and playing for as long as he can.
“But again: there is no interest to sell. There has been absolutely nowhere near the valuation. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it again: no player will ever come out of Celtic cheap, if they are to go. That’s not something I would be looking to do at this stage, with four days to go.”
While Chelsea’s interest in Gordon guarantees the player a better contract at Celtic, Rodgers is well aware that the cost of that pales in comparison to the cost of replacing him.
“There is talk of Begovic being £10m or £12m, so you are not going to sell one and bring one in to replace for say £2m or £3m are you? Why would you do it? You wouldn’t. If that’s the numbers, but I’ve no interest in doing it for any of the players. We don’t want to sell.”
Meanwhile, Henry Onyekuru, the 19-year-old Nigerian striker who is embroiled in a want-away saga with Belgian club AS Eupen has insisted that he wants to go to Celtic.
“We will just see what happens,” said Rodgers. “He is a fantastic player with big attributes, but we will see how it develops over the next few days.”