Callum McGregor was given his chance at Celtic in 2014 by Ronny Deila, as an inverted right-winger. After a promising opening few months in that role, his form slipped and he looked no different than the bevvy of wider players who passed through the club in the years before and after this.
A year later, with Scott Brown unavailable, Callum played in his now-accustomed deep lying midfield role in a Europa League game against Ajax. I remember the “playing three wingers” horror when we heard the team, as Gary Mackay-Steven and James Forrest were also named in the starting line-up. We lost the game to a late goal, but McGregor flourished in his central role and opened the scoring.
Since then he has grown into Celtic’s metronome. Last season he played more minutes professional football than any player on the planet. Twice in the last year, when moved to left back, Celtic conceded control of midfield and suffered defeat. We need either Callum McGregor, or we need someone with the same tactical discipline to do exactly the job Callum does.
In signing a five-year contract, he has committed himself to Celtic until he turns 31. By then he will very likely be one of the most decorated players in Scottish football history and possibly Celtic captain. This deal comes just 11 months after the player last signed a five-year contract. It is undoubtedly a shot across the bows of those who might want to tempt him to the Midlands. The player is demonstrably happy at Celtic and is intent on staying.
The question now, for Callum, is can he step up in the Eternal City?