DEDRYCK BOYATA’S agent last night revealed the Celtic star plans to effectively down tools by refusing to play for the club.
The Belgian defender had a great World Cup and now wants to cash in on interest in his signature from clubs, including Lazio, Sevilla and Lyon.
However, in what is becoming an increasingly fractious stand-off, Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers said last night the player wouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere unless a suitable replacement could be found.
Jacques Lichtenstein, Boyata’s agent argued that attitude would result in a stand-off.
“Celtic are a very big club – but don’t behave like one,” he said
“Dedryck is disappointed because he has been made promises that have not been kept.
“They have not responded to the interest of other clubs. Phone calls have gone unanswered. Requests for meetings have been refused.
“He is still under contract with Celtic until June, 2019. But entering the last 10 months, everyone understands that he cannot put his career at risk by playing even slightly injured – or at 95% – something a footballer sometimes does when it is covered by two or three years of contract.
“Despite Dedryck’s love for the Celtic fans, he cannot put his future and his family’s future in danger by playing without being 100%.
“On January 1, he will sign elsewhere by being free without reporting anything to Celtic.”
That was a stance which did not impress Rodgers.
“Obviously now there have been one or two offers for him,” he said.
“But, of course, if we lose a centre half of that quality at this vital stage, we have to be able to replace him.
“So, rightly, the club will look at that, and I have to look at that as the manager, to see if all the timing is right.
“Dedryck’s agent turned up yesterday at the training ground. The day before the game the training ground is closed.
“He wanted to speak to me at 10 o’clock. I had a meeting with players at half-past-10 concentrating on this game.
“I said I couldn’t meet him before, but I’d meet him after training once I’d done my work.
“When I came back after training, he wasn’t there.
“So that’s the honest situation where Boyata’s at. He’s a player we don’t want to lose.
“He may run his contract down, but unless there’s something other than that, we want him to be here.”
The Celtic boss stopped short, though, of implying his player would be deliberately disruptive in the dressing-room if he did not get his way.
“I don’t want to go down that route. It’s something that can happen, but Dedryck’s a good guy,” said Rodgers.
“I look at where he was when I came in, to where he is at now. He’ll get opportunities, of course, but he’ll have opportunities in the future as well.
“He’s in the last year of his contract and it works both ways, really.
“Can he play with his mind this way? I’m not sure. It is difficult.
“My concentration is really on the players that are going to play and are going to be fit to play in Athens.
“And to see if we can go out there and meet the challenge and get the result.”