CELTIC lost out in their bid for Ben Davies when the Preston defender was re-routed to Liverpool hours before the transfer deadline.

The 25-year-old centre-back admitted he could not turn down the Merseyside outfit the moment he heard of their interest.

Davies was on the brink of signing a pre-contract at the Parkhead club before Jurgen Klopp’s side made contact over a move this window. He acknowledged the moment he heard of their interest there could be only one destination.

The left-footed ace, speaking to the club website, said: “Obviously, it came as a bit of a surprise, but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible. I’d be silly to not make the most of it.

“I know we’ve got some top players here and players I can certainly learn from. ”

In the end, the move for Davies became another frustrating bid by the Hoops that was to end in failure.

There were more than a few in a season of disappointment for the club – on and off the field.

Davies’ Deepdale team-mate BEN PEARSON was also watched by the Hoops, but the midfielder agreed to join Bournemouth last week.

Two other central defenders who were looked at were former fans’ favourite FILIP BENKOVIC and USA international MARK McKENZIE. Coincidentally, both will be playing in Belgium alongside the Hoops’ Jack Hendry who is impressing while on loan at KV Oostende.

The Leicester City central defender was tipped for a second stint at the Hoops, but, instead, he joined OH Leuvren for the remainder of the season. The Belgian club have links to Brendan Rodgers’ Midlands outfit and moved swiftly to get the deal over the line.

Benkovic, 23, who had an impressive spell at Parkhead during the 2018/19 season, was on the look-out for a new club after being recalled early from Cardiff City by the ex-Celtic boss.

The Croatian back-four operator made only one substitute’s appearance for the Welsh side before returning to the King Power club with Rodgers keen for him to get game-time elsewhere. The Irishman admitted the Scottish champions would be a “great move” for the player.

At the time, John Kennedy, Lennon’s No.2, admitted: “Filip is one who we are very well aware of and have spoken about. We know what he is capable of, and he’s a guy who has been here and knows what it’s about.

“So he is certainly on a shortlist of options to strengthen the centre-back position.”

That never materialised, of course, and neither did a bid for Philadelphia Union stopper McKenzie who agreed a £4million switch to Genk.

The 21-year-old American was looked at several times by the Hoops, but the decision was taken not to pursue a deal which led to the defender heading for Belgium’s Jupiler League.

ALFIE DOUGHTY, Charlton’s versatile left-sided defender or midfielder, had been linked with Celtic since the summer when the club were reported to have failed in multiple bids for the 21-year-old who was due to come out of contract in June.

Stoke City gaffer Micheal O’Neill won the race for the highly-rated player – and it was the second time the Championship side have swooped to sign a player on Celtic’s wanted list.

They also snatched 33-year-old Scotland international striker STEVEN FLETCHER on a free from Sheffield Wednesday in the summer when there was talk of a switch to the champions.

The ex-Hibs frontman admitted he was interested in a return across the border and Lennon confirmed negotiations had taken place between the club and the player’s representatives when he admitted: “Talks are ongoing at the minute. We will just have to wait and see.”

However, the proposed move stalled and the Parkhead men paid £5million to West Ham for Albian Ajeti instead. The Swiss international has scored five goals in an unconvincing start to his career at Parkhead.

Lennon also received glowing reports on 22-year-old Queens Park Rangers wide player BRIGHT OSAYI-SAMUEL who was coming out of contract.

The pacy winger was also linked with Crystal Palace and Brugge, but has agreed a move to Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

LIAM SHAW, Sheffield Wednesday’s 19-year-old defensive midfielder, came on the scene last month and reports indicated the Hoops may be prepared to pay £300,000 under cross-border rules, but that has got into cold storage.

Celtic’s frustration in the transfer market kicked off only days after the ninth successive title celebrations when FRASER FORSTER stalled on agreeing a quickfire return on a second loan deal and eventually decided to remain at Southampton on a £92,000-per-wek contract that still had two years to run.

Former England international JOE HART was also seen as a possibility after being released by Burnley, but the shotstopper was lured to Spurs by Jose Mourinho.

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