Celtic were facing a significant crisis in defence before the start of the season. They had lost the services of two right-backs in Mikael Lustig and Cristian Gamboa, two centre backs in Filip Benkovic and Dedryck Boyata and two left-backs in Kieran Tierney and Emilio Izaguirre. The European qualifiers began early, and Lennon didn’t have many options to play at the back. He went on to use Nir Bitton in the centre back role even though the player is primarily a defensive midfielder by trade. However, to everyone’s surprise, the Israel international managed to perform well.
Bitton even went on to start in the all-important Old Firm derby where Celtic ran out 2-0 winners. The defender hardly put a foot wrong in that game, and the Hoops kept a clean sheet even though they were ridiculed for the lack of defensive options before the game. Bitton is currently in the final year of his contract at Parkhead, and he has attracted interest from Premier League outfit Burnley who want to sign him in January.
Lennon reveals his stance on Bitton
However, Lennon recently told that he wants to keep the versatile midfielder at Parkhead and talks are ongoing regarding a new contract. The Celtic boss said (Daily Record), ”We don’t want him to go, we want him to stay. So, talks are on-going. Do we want it sorted before January? Yeah. We don’t want him to run down his contract, for sure. He’s made indications he would like to stay, and that’s what we want too, so we’ll see how that pans out.”
Right call from Lennon?
Bitton has been part of six Premiership titles at Celtic. However, his importance in the squad has reduced over the years due to the loss of form and injuries. The 28-year-old played just six games last season, and many expected this season to be his last in Glasgow.
However, Bitton covered himself in glory with some of his defensive displays early on as he was calm and composed at the back. He also has the physical attributes to be a centre back as he stands in at 6ft4 and that gives him an advantage in aerial duels. He has always been comfortable with the ball at his feet, and Bitton has rediscovered himself as a centre back now in Celtic colours.
We certainly believe that Lennon is making the right call here by trying to tie down Bitton on a new contract before the January transfer window reopens in January. Hopefully, the club will be able to secure his signature as Burnley are lurking around to recruit him.
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