LIEL ABADA has been given the green light to continue his career at Celtic after a face-to-face meeting with Brendan Rodgers.
The Israeli international winger has been linked with a move away from the champions since he knocked back a contract extension at the same time as Giorgos Giakoumakis on November 1 last year.
The Greek striker was sold to MLS outfit Atlanta United in February while Abada, one of Ange Postecoglou’s first signings for the Hoops when he arrived in a £3.5million deal from Maccabi Petah Tikva in July 2021, has been linked with the likes of Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon, Ajax and Southampton before their relegation from the English top flight.
GETTING SHIRTY…Liel Abada during a break in play in the 1-0 win over Gamba Osaka at the weekend.
Abada has fired in 28 goals in 101 appearances, but was not a first pick for the Greek-Australian gaffer last term with Filipe Jota and Daizen Maeda emerging as the regular choices on the flanks.
The 21-year-old touchline ace, however, contributed heavily to the world record treble-winning success and the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle early last month came alive after his introduction for the Japanese speedster at the start of the second-half with the champions already leading 1-0 through Kyogo Furuhashi’s 34th goal of the crusade.
Abada doubled the advantage with his 13th strike of the campaign and, after the Highlanders has pulled one back, the lively raider set up the third for Jota in the fading moments.
Returning boss Rodgers, who selected the wide Bhoy in his starting line-ups for the two games in Japan against Yokohama F Marinos and Gamba Osaka, has admitted he is a fan of the player.
The Hoops gaffer said: “When I came in, we had a nice conversation, a really open conversation. He sat in the office and I just wanted to know what his ambitions were and what he wanted to achieve.
FINAL SAY…Liel Abada celebrates his strike in last month’s soccer showpiece at Hampden.
“He is very keen and he really wants to be here to improve. But he also understands there needs to be competition when you are at a top club. That pushes you.
“Overall, I like his game when I was watching from afar. I like his runs and he has a real killer instinct in front of goal.
“You don’t get that many goals unless you want to score – which I love. There are other areas we can look at to help him get to another level.”
The Irishman, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “I like him. I like his qualities.
“He wants to run in behind, his goalscoring record is incredible for a winger. That’s what you want – someone who can create and score goals.
“His pressing could be better, he could be more aggressive. But he’s a real threat. I like him as a guy. I always like to get to know the players, so I can understand what their motivations and ambitions are.
BRING IT ON…Liel Abada (front row, centre) lines up with his Celtic team-mates before the kick-off against Gamba Osaka in Japan at the weekend.
“He wants to improve. He’s still only 21 with a lot of development left. I like wingers and he’s a very effective one. He’s quite a quiet lad. He’s got a similar mentality to Nir Bitton, who is a lovely big guy, really gentle.
“But he wanted to do well and Liel is the same. He’s likes to communicate, so we’ve spoken a number of times. He knows where he can be better and where he can improve.
“And he WILL improve.”
Abada, who is under contract until June 2026, looks to be a certain starter when Rodgers takes his squad to Dublin for the friendly encounter against Wolves at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
He will make his first appearance at Parkhead in James Forrest’ Testimonial Match against Spanish cracks Athletic Bilbao a week tomorrow which will set up the players when the competitive action when Ross County visit on Premiership Flag Day on Saturday August 5.