Whatever doubts existed about the first team squad, we all knew there was no chance of Callum McGregor leaving. This morning, Celtic announced the captain has signed a five-year contract which will keep him at the club until he turns 35. It is likely to be his last in the game and will be structured to see him adopt coaching responsibilities towards the latter end of the deal.
We have spoken recently about the value of increasing the velocity of churn in the squad. Two years was more than enough time to enjoy the delights of Jota, before turning him into a pile of cash we can go shopping with. But there is a problem with a revolving door strategy. You need people who can educate new arrivals in what is expected from them and how to deal with life in a new city.
In times when even the manager moves on after a couple of years, Callum McGregor fulfils that role for Celtic. His is fundamental to the success of the club. Although James Forrest seldom plays, his presence at Lennoxtown is also invaluable.
We have seen a few great central midfielders over the last couple of decades: Lambert, Lennon, Keane, Brown, to name a few. They all lose their effectiveness on the park while still at the peak of their powers in the dressing room. I don’t recall any of them being truly great approaching 35-years-old. Callum, however, is a unique football player. He is the fittest who has ever played for the club.
There are 15 domestic trophies to compete for before this contract ends. I don’t doubt he can collect winners medals for the majority of them.