SHANE DUFFY will tell Brighton he wants to join Celtic – even if the top-flight side pick up £40million for his defensive team-mate Lewis Dunk.

Chelsea are poised to splash the cash for the south coast club’s centre-back which could leave boss Graham Potter with a dilemma ahead of the Republic of Ireland’s wish to switch to his boyhood heroes.

The Seagulls’ gaffer agreed to allow Duffy to leave the side after the 28-year-old no-nonsense centre-back’s first-team appearances had been curtailed – mainly due to the consistency of Dunk who made his England international debut in 2018.

Spurs are also in the hunt for the player, also 28, and Brighton will find it difficult to reject a bid in the £40million bracket, according to a report in The Sun.

Dunk, like Duffy’s affinity with Celtic, is a lifelong fan of the Stamford Bridge outfit and will opt to join Frank Lampard’s men if it comes to a choice.

Chelsea see the towering stopper as being pivotal to shoring up a defence that conceded 54 goals in the Premier League last season — more than any other team in the top half of the table.

The anticipated switch of the club’s popular captain could leave Duffy in limbo after the player, who cost the Seagulls £4million when he joined from Blackburn Rovers in 2016, already had talks with Neil Lennon, still searching for a replacement for Jozo Simunovic.

The English outfit have already slapped a £2million loan fee on the head of the rugged back-four performer, as CQN reported, and that is hardly likely to deter the champions who are looking for a historical 10 successive titles.

West Ham boss David Moyes, who has just sold Swiss Striker Albian Ajeti to the Hoops in a £5million deal, Burnley and newly-promoted double-act Leeds Uniuted and West Brom are also looking at Duffy who still has three years left to run on his contract.

The defender made only 19 Premier League appearances last season as he dropped down the pecking order behind Dunk and Adam Webster.

Duffy’s desire to join the Parkhead club could be aided by the Amex side’s summer purchase of Dutch international Joel Veltman from Ajax.

Boss Potter will be hit with a massive problem if two central defenders, Duffy and Dunk, leave at the same time, but the Irish star has now set his sights on realising his all-time football ambition.

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