BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed Celtic came close to signing £105million England international Declan Rice during his first spell in charge at Parkhead.
The future big-money Arsenal star was coming through the ranks at West Ham when he was identified by the Hoops as a player of genuine potential.
Rodgers, who had brought striker Moussa Dembele from Fulham in a £500,000 cross-border transfer in one of his first deals, made his move for Rice.
However, bad timing scuppered the champions’ efforts to sign the teenager who will celebate his 25th birthday a week tomorrow.
Rodgers said: “I remember when I was here the first time, we spent about three months looking for Declan Rice to come in.
ALMOST A BHOY…Declan Rice in action against Scotland at Hampden in September last year during England’s 3-1 friendly victory.
“Declan was all set to come in and then all of a sudden they had an injury, he stayed and got in the team and the rest is history. That’s not the club’s fault – it’s just the way it goes.”
Arsenal chief Mikel Arteta paid £105million to lure the all-action middle-of-the-park performer across london from the Hammers to the Gunners in the summer.
The Hoops gaffer admitted to the failed bid as he confirmed he was aiming to get deals done early in the current transfer window.
Rodgers, speaking to the BBC, added: “There is a lot of work going on in the background and I’m pretty sure that in this early period of the month, we can have some joy and get one or two in. Ideally. you’d want to get them in [quickly].
“Deals can be complicated and things that might have been there for three or four months can fall away. That’s always the challenge.
“It only takes one injury to [affect]a player who was lined up to come in.”
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