BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed his failed attempt to lure Callum McGregor away from Celtic.
The manager and captain are reunited once again at Parkhead after the Irishman sealed a three-year contract to succeed Spurs-bound Ange Postecoglou.
There can be little doubt the appreciation Rodgers has for McGregor and likewise the enthusiasm the midfielder has for the second time-around gaffer.
THE FINAL HURRAH…Brendan Rodgers issues instructions to Callum McGregor in the 1-0 League Cup success over Aberdeen in December 2018, the double-act’s last silverware success.
The double-act first met when the former Liverpool boss took over from Ronny Deilia in May 2016 and it was a mutual admiration act from day one as the Hoops collected seven successive domestic honours before the pair separated in February 2019.
Rodgers, of course, made a hasty switch to Leicester City in an exit that sent reverberations throughout the club and the support.
Now it has emerged that the Scotland international anchorman was a priority target for the departing manager after he arrived in the Midlands.
In the summer of 2020, there were reports of a £25million bid for the Glaswegian who had emerged through the ranks of the club’s academy in the same manner as colleague Kieran Tierney who had just completed a move to Arsenal for an identical fee.
Candidly, Rodgers has now admitted: “Did I try to get Callum to Leicester? Yes. I was keen to get him. When I left, you had him and Kieran here. And certainly, when whichever one of them left, the other one was probably never going to get away.
“Kieran was the one who went to Arsenal. But, for me, Callum would have been perfect for the Premier League. He could have come in and imposed how I wanted to play.
“He understands how I want to work and he can play in different positions. Callum is tactically brilliant, one of the best I’ve worked with. But I’m really glad he stayed now! And I’m very happy that he’s the captain.
BHOY, OH BHOY…Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor hold the newly-won Leagie Cup after the 1-0 triumph over Aberdeen at Hampden in December 2018.
“There’s no question he could have played down there. People say that Scott Brown would never have coped in the Premier League. But my experience of both leagues tells me he’d have played in a top six team in England. And Callum is the same.
“They stayed at Celtic because their happiness is here. Sometimes it’s different for coaches because from their perspective it’s the challenge of working against other top managers and top teams.
“But for Callum, he’s really happy here and he’s really progressed from my first time here. He’s continued to improve and now he’s so important for club and country. For me, he could fit into any of the top teams in England because he can play.”
Rodgers will also be reunited with veteran James Forrest who was hampered by injury last season although he still managed to claim his 100th Celtic goal with a superb hat-trick in the 6-1 win over Hibs at Parkhead in October last year.
The incoming chief insisted if the Scotland winger can get himself back to full fitness, he will have a crucial role to play.
Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “James still has a part to play here. He’s at the stage of his career where it’s slightly different now. For him, it’s all about staying fit.
“James was such an important player in the squad last time and he was a great guy to work with. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
“It’s been a challenge for James recently, but I’ve seen snippets of him where, when he’s fit and ready, he is still a fantastic player for Celtic.”