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CHRISTIE AT THE CROSSROADS

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RYAN CHRISTIE is in no rush to agree a contract extension at Celtic.

The Scotland international playmaker has 21 months to run on his current deal and the champions are keen for the 25-year-old Highlander to commit his future to the club.

However, Christie, who was signed by Ronny Deila for £500,000 from Inverness Caley Thistle in 2015 before having two loan periods at Aberdeen, has so far stalled in putting pen to paper.

The stylish performer made 43 first-team appearances last season and claimed 19 goals before the campaign was brought to an early halt by the coronavirus pandemic.

And the virus will also sideline one of Neil Lennon’s key players for the visit of Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox squad to Parkhead for the Glasgow derby on Saturday after it was discovered he had been in contact with Scotland team-mate Stuart Armstrong who tested positive for Covid-19 before Thursday’s 5-3 penalty-kick shoot-out victory over Israel in the Euro play-off semi-final.

Ex-Hoops pal Kieran Tierney was ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, too, after the three friends had been in company while preparing for the game.

Christie is aware of the money that can be made in the top-flight across the border with Armstrong now at Southampton and Tierney joining Arsenal in a record-breaking £25million switch last summer.

On his current contract situation, the middle-of-the-park performer told The Scotsman: “I’ve spoken to the manager a few times up to this point. With everything going on, I didn’t think it was the right time to go into it.

“I’ve still got plenty of time on my current contract. Before this one, I was down to five months to go before we signed a new deal. So, there’s plenty of time for that to resolve itself.

“It’s not occupying my thoughts just now and I’ve said that to the manager, as well.”

Christie’s father Charlie, who had a spell at Parkhead during Billy McNeill’s second reign, made a remark recently that caught the attention when he insisted his son was “ambitious”.

The player added: “It’s crazy these days when people go into the last two years of their contract and there’s a big freak-out about when they’re going to sign the next one. It’s changed days. My dad always reminds me of when he’d go down to the last week of his contract and still hadn’t heard anything.

“For a club to offer you a contract, you must be doing something right. So, I’m happy – I was pleased with my season last year.

“Now, I want to get back to the highs and top form I hit then.”

However, it is clear with Christie putting the recent offer of a new deal on the back-burner that he is at the crossroads of his career.

Boss Lennon and the Hoops hierarchy have made it clear they want him to stay. The ball is now at Christie’s talented feet.

 
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