CELTIC’S powerbrokers MUST give Callum McGregor a pay hike to make sure he remains at Parkhead.
That’s the view of the club’s former midfielder and assistant boss Murdo MacLeod who is a firm admirer of the Scotland international star.
McGregor was on Brendan Rodgers’ wanted list at Leicester City in the summer at the same time Kieran Tierney was heading for Arsenal in his record-breaking £36million deal.
The 26-year-old Glaswegian remained, despite the transfer speculation and is once again a key performer in Neil Lennon’s line-up.
And MacLeod insists the champions should cut the purse strings to make sure his partnership with Scott Brown remains intact as the Hoops eye nine in a row and beyond.
McGregor is under contract until 2023 after renegotiating terms a year ago, but boss Lennon agrees with MacLeod and reckons he is worth a wage boost.
ON THE BALL…Callum McGregor displays his skills.
The ex-powerhouse, who was brought to Celtic by Billy McNeill in a £100,000 deal from Dumbarton in 1978, told the Scottish Sun: “The club need to give him good money in a good contract. That will give him a massive boost.
“I will be delighted if someone of Callum’s calibre is going to be rewarded because he totally deserves it.
“The way football is now players are coming to Celtic for two or three years — sometimes less — then moving to England to make money.
“Callum has been so loyal to Celtic. He came right through the academy, reserves and the like and then he had to be patient and take the decision to go on loan to Notts County.
“All the while he just wanted to get his chance and he has proved his quality.
“I don’t think he wants to play anywhere else, really. He loves it at Celtic and has been at the heart of all of their recent success.
“But I think he needs to be shown that the club appreciate what he has done and what he will bring in the future.”
MacLeod added: “If he gets his reward of an enhanced deal then it will make him feel wanted and it will encourage him to play even better.
“Of course, he is under contract for a few years yet, but he clearly merits an increase in his financial position and from my point of view it will be good business.”
TWO OF A KIND…Callum McGregor and Mohamed Elyounoussi celebrate a goal.
MacLeod was one of the players who left the club in the 1980s when they were coming to the end of their contracts and felt they deserved better deals.
The midfield man moved to Borussia Dortmund and others such as Brian McClair (Manchester United), Alan McInally (Aston Villa) and Mo Johnston (Nantes) also quit around the same time.
He added: “I know money is completely different now, but the principles were the same back in my day.
“A few of us were out of contract at the end of 1986/87 season. Most of the boys wanted to stay, but the finances weren’t there.
“I think it’s important that Celtic have good Scottish players in their side and Callum is one of the best.”
McGregor, manwhile, is preparing for Thursday’s Europa League Group E visit from Serie A outfit Lazio.
He is certain to again feature prominently against the Italian aces as the Hoops aim to remain in top spot in their section.
At the moment, Lennon’s men have four points from two games after the 1-1 draw against Rennes in France and the 2-0 ictory over Cluj in Glasgow earlier this month.