CELTIC’S on-loan midfielder Paulo Bernardo is a wanted man in Mexico.

The stylish playmaker, rated around the £6million mark by parent club Benfica, is being tracked by one of his former mentors at the Lisbon giants.

Renato Paiva, a one-time coach at the Portuguese club’s academy and B team, admits he has observed the progress of the ex-Under-21 international star whose temporary contract with the champions expires at the end of the season.

So far there have been no indications from Brendan Rodgers if he is considering making the switch permanent or even thinking of an extension request to the loan period.

THE JUGGLER…Paulo Bernardo displays his skills in Celtic’s crucial 3-0 win over Dundee at Dens Park on Boxing Day.

Paiva, who was coach at Brazilian club Bahia before taking over at Mexican outfit Deportivo Toluca just before the turn of the year, continues to monitor the progress of the 22-year-old operator and revealed he attempted to entice him to the South American team in the summer.

Bernardo, of course, knocked back the opportunity of a reunion with the one-time Benfica backroom boy to sign a year-long deal at Parkhead.

Paiva, speaking to Portuguese sports media outlet A Bola, admitted: “I had my eyes on Paulo Bernardo. But at the time it wasn’t possible.

“He didn’t want to leave for South America. I kept my eyes on him and if Benfica intend to release him.

“I sit on the sofa and see him playing at the highest level, being able to say that I contributed a little something to that makes me very satisfied.

“I would like to reunite if there was an opportunity.”

HOW’S THAT FOR OPENERS…Paulo Bernardo is flat out as he claims the Hoops’ barrier-breaking goal in the victory on Tayside on Boxing Day.

Bernardo is in the Celtic match day squad for today’s visit to Dens Park as the countdown to the crown continues with just five games to go.

Ironically, the silky performer scored his first goal for the Hoops at the venue when he forced in the opener in the 3-0 Boxing Day triumph.

Bernardo’s second strike for the team was a lot more memorable – an unstoppable first-time drive from the edge of the penalty box to provide the breakthrough goal in the 2-1 derby day triumph on December 30.

*DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and best action images from Dundee v Celtic this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.

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