JOE HART’S future at Celtic has once again been thrown into doubt with the champions linked with a January move for Real Madrid back-up keeper Andriy Lunin.
The 36-year-old 75 times-capped England international shotstopper is out of contract at the end of the season following his £1million switch from Spurs in August 2021.
Hart is the undisputed No.1 at Parkhead with Scott Bain and Benji Siegriist as stand-by netminders.
GAFFER AND GOALKEEPER…Brendan Rodgers and Joe Hart talk it over during training at Lennoxtown.
The one-time Manchester City star is the same age as club legend Ronnie Simpson when he was the last line of defence when Jock Stein’s all-conquering side overwhelmed Inter Milan 2-1 on May 25 1967 in Lisbon to become the first British club to win the European Cup.
Hart has featured in every major success since he answered an SOS from Ange Postecoglou just over two years ago after the new Hoops gaffer had failed to be convinced by Vasilis Barkas, who cost £4.5million from AEK Athens the previous summer, or Bain, brought to the club on a free agent from Dundee in 2018.
Back in August, as CQN reported, Rodgers said: “I’ve had a couple of good chats with Joe, who has done fantastic.
“There is absolutely no question about his personality. He’s a great guy, very humble. He’s a brilliant shotstopper, a big presence, a great communicator.
“Does he have a chance of staying beyond the end of the season? Yeah. But there are family matters to consider, too.”
It’s a mysterious situation that will required to be addressed in the January transfer window. A decision MUST be made about the keeper’s future before a summer guessing game gets into full swing.
Rodgers’ former Leicester City No.1 Kasper Schmeichel, up for grabs after leaving Nice, and Croatia’s World Cup Finals hero Dominik Livakovic were both mentioned in the summer.
CROWNING GLORY…Joe Hart with Stephen Welsh and the Premiership trophy following the 5-0 Flag Day win over Aberdeen at Parkhead in May.
The speculation came to nothing with the Danish international joining Anderlecht and the Dinamo Zagreb star sealing a switch to Fenerbahce.
Now the champions are considering a move for Ukrainian keeper Lunin, according to a report in the Daily Record.
The 24-year-old netminder played in the first two games of the season for the Spanish giants after taking the gloves from the injured Thibaut Courtois.
However, he dropped onto the substitutes’ bench when Real brought in Kepa Arrizbalaga on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
Lunin, who has been at the Bernabeu since 2018 after joining from Zoyra Luhansk, has rarely been seen and has spent time on loan with Leganes, Valladolid and Oviedo.
He is now said to be considering his future with other clubs, Celtic allegedly among them, monitoring his situation.
Rodgers has also been reported to be interested in Liverpool’s Republic of Ireland shotstopper Caoimhin Kelleher, but Anfield boss Jurgen Klopp is keen to hold on to Brazilian ace Alisson’s understudy.
Decision time is looming on Celtic’s No.1 puzzle.