BRENDAN RODGERS has promised there will be no exit of Celtic’s star names before the Champions League qualifiers kick off this summer.
There has been massive interest in 32-goal hitman Moussa Dembele in his debut season in the Premiership and Chelsea were prepared to pay £30zmillion in January.
The 20-year-old French ace has been linked with a host of clubs since and a bright end to the campaign is bound to spark off football’s rumour factory.
But Rodgers is adamant his squad will be STRONGER by the start of the European qualifiers in July as he aims to secure a second successive tilt at the group stages.
He said: “Am I confident my key players will be here for the qualifiers? Yes. I would like to think going into the qualifiers we will be a stronger squad.
“We will retain the ones we have and then, touch wood, be able to make the additions we want.
“I think there is a real happiness in the group. I think they see the benefits of how we work.
“Our goals are beyond this season. So, arriving into the qualifiers, hopefully we will be in as good place. We will certainly be in a much better place than we were for last year’s qualifiers.
“It doesn’t make it any less anxious. Goodness me! But, at least, we will be much better prepared for it.”
Rodgers hopes to add some “game-changing” players to the champions during the summer window.
He said: “How many would I want to sign? A manager will always tell you three.
“The players I’d like to bring in could make a real impact and help the boys here.
“Game-changing players? Yeah. I look at the needs of the squad and try to project the developments of players here.
“I’m preparing for another 60-game season, so I need a good squad. One that’s tight and with a good spirit.
“Some players will move on. Some, their cycle will finish here because they might not get the game-time they want.
“Some might want to go on and try something else. That’s natural.
“But the number of players I think can help us develop and improve is minimal. There won’t be wholesale changes.”
Rodgers has not ruled out a big-name signing, but stressed that all players he targets will be “blue chip”.
He said: “I wouldn’t ever just sign a name for the sake of it.
“I want a good player. I want a player – however old he is – who wants to still improve, who wants to work hard, who has a humility and who wants to come in and win.
“If that’s a blue chip player, great. Blue chip is Celtic. That’s the profile.
“But the players who come in here, come in to work for the club. So, it has to be the right type of player.
“My game and the way I always ask the team to play means it’s always going to be a dynamic and exciting and aggressive team.
“Players who come in have to have that.
“There will always be a ceiling. I respect that. It’s not an open chequebook, but I feel the board will always do everything they possibly can to get the right types of players in.
“But it’s always based around affordability. Ultimately, you need to know who is available and then you can make your case from there.”
Thanks to everyone who has so far ordered our new book In thr Heat of Lisbon with our Jock Stein t-shirt for just £19.67.
The orders will be shipped later next week when we get the book hot off the presses. At that point the launch offer will end and both the book and t-shirt will be sold separately at £14.99 each.
Hurry to catch the special £19.67 offer for both by going to www.cqnbookstore.com and remember all profits will be used to say Thank You to the Celtic players of 66/67.
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