‘IMPORTANT,’ McGREGOR CALL FOR BERNARDO DEAL

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CALLUM McGREGOR has urged Celtic to snap up Paulo Bernardo in the summer.

The Hoops skipper admits he has been impressed by the on-loan Benfica playmaker who is valued around the £6.3million mark by the Lisbon giants.

Bernardo, 22, has made 33 appearances in the Hoops’ double-winning season to welcome back Brendan Rodgers back to the fold for a second stint in charge.

The Irishman won his ninth piece of silverware over his two spells when a goal from Adam Idah made certain the Scottish Cup would remain in the Parkhead trophy room as the Republic of Ireland striker, another temporary transfer recruit, swooped to fire past Ibrox keeper Jack Butland at Hampden at the weekend.

WINNER ON THE WAY…Paulo Bernardo races away from Nico Raskin en route to helping set up the Scottish Cup clincher for Adam Idah.

Bernardo played a crucial role in the last-minute strike when he surged forward from the centre circle after evading a clumsy lunge from Nico Raskin.

The former Portugal Under-21 captain continued his run before firing a shot at goal from 25 yards and the swerve of the effort completely bamboozled the Rangers keeper who could only palm the ball to Idah who unhesitatingly thumped in the rebound from close range.

Bernardo returned to Lisbon after the encounter and took to social media to say: “Grateful for the season. Thank you very much for all the support.”

Now it’s make-your-mind-up time for the Hoops hierarchy to negotiate with their Benfica counterparts to get the deal sealed.

The club’s onfield leader is convinced Bernardo is the type who should be part of the ongoing Celtic success story – with seven from the nine domestic honours available over the past three years – and the money men should make their move.

IT TAKES TWO…Callum McGregor and Paulo Bernardo celebrate a goal in a 2-0 Scottish Cup win over St Mirren in Paisley in February.

McGregor, speaking to the Scottish Sun, said: “Paulo has been an important player for us. He has big technical quality and he’s a young kid who wants to do well.

“That’s the type of profile we want at the club. Hopefully, we can bring him back.

“He’s a great lad, as well. He works ever so hard and he’s a part of the group we have.

“Obviously, the club will decide what happens, but that’s certainly the profile we want.

“You want hungry players who are technically good and can come and also make an impact.”

Bernardo and a handful of his Under-21 team-mates will be given the opportunity to impress Roberto Martinez in the forthcoming days following the international coach’s invitation to the Portugal training camp as he finalises his Euro 2024 squad.

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