BARCELONA and Spain legend Xavi believes Celtic can become Champions League regulars – as long as they hold onto their top stars.
The veteran midfielder is an admitted admirer of the champions and was delighted when the Hoops were drawn against his former club Barca as well as Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach in this season’s group stages.
Xavi, 36, fears the Parkhead men will struggle to make an impact at the highest level if they continue to sell their main men as they have done in recent seasons with Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster and Virgilk van Dijk all moving to the English top flight.
He said: “Celtic is a team I have affection for – I was vocal about them belonging in the Champions League – and now they are back, they have to make sure they are there every season.
“The most important thing they can do to achieve that is keep their best players.
“Before you even think of adding players, you have to concentrate on keeping the best ones you have.
“Quality players will not want to join a club where they see the best players are sold every summer.”
Moussa Dembele, 20, has stepped into the spotlight with his performances since joining from Fulham for a £500,000 development fee in the summer.
Brendan Rodgers has no plans to allow the 16-goal French striker to leave, but admitted: “It depends on the player and the time.
“Moussa has signed a four-year deal and when players sign for that length of time I want them to stay for four years.
“But if you get a big offer after two or three years, then that’s what happens. Using Moussa as an example, the minimum for him in his development would be to be here for two years.
“That would set him up very well if he was to move.”
Talking about losing our best players, who remembers August 1977 when news came through that Celtic’s best player Kenny Dalglish had left the club and signed for Liverpool for a mere £440,000?
The Celtic support was devastated and we went on to have a horrible season winning nothing.
It took a long time to get over losing Kenny.
Well his success at Liverpool may have over shadowed just how special he was in his nine seasons in the Hoops.
In our new book, Kenny of the Celtic, we aim to put that right. Written by Stephen Murray, of Ten Men Won the League fame, Kenny of the Celtic recalls Dalglish’s playing career at Celtic. Nothing on Liverpool, nothing on management, just playing for Celtic, so beautifully.