Nir Bitton’s contract may be up at the end of the season, but his sights aren’t set on departing Parkhead anytime soon.
The Israeli has been with the club since 2013 when he was signed by Neil Lennon. Since then, it’s been a roller-coaster of emotions for the midfielder-turned-central defender. He was once one of the most highly-rated players in our side under Ronny Deila.
More recently, however, he’s had to spend nearly a year out the game with an injury to the knee. These days, however, he’s now Lennon’s utility man and has racked up 193 Hoops appearances to his name overall.
But as he spoke to the Celtic View (Volume 55, Issue 16, Page 13), Bitton confirmed that he wants to stay at the club beyond the end of his contract.
“Every season is important for a football player but, for me, this season is important because I finish my contract at the end of it. I obviously want to stay at Celtic for as long as I can.
“I see my kids speaking English, which makes me very happy, so it’s god for all of us, and as long as it continues, I’ll be happy. But, of course, it’s football so you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so we’ll see.
“I was out for a year so it’s good for me to be back, playing football again, and trying to stay fit. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Bitton has proven that he has a part to play
Bitton’s return may not be met with party hats and streamers, but he has a more important role to play than many may think.
With Jozo Simunovic still sidelined, Bitton’s return is huge. If Hatem Abd Elhamed is to stay in his rightful right-back position, Bitton is the first reserve at centre-back. We don’t have another option outside of Jack Hendry, and he isn’t exactly a fans-favourite.
If anything happens to Chris Jullien or Kris Ajer, it’s more likely that Bitton comes in as opposed to anyone else. If he was to pick up another knock, we would certainly be struggling in that area.
He’s already made 12 appearances so far this season. Lennon sees plenty of value in Bitton, and he has his part to play. Sure, he may not be a first-choice starter. However, he’ll get enough appearances this season to make him want to continue developing at Parkhead.
Bitton has managed to win many over with his performances at centre-back. It originally looked as though Lenny had made a mistake by playing him there in pre-season. But it’s fair to say that Bitton has looked more and more confident in the position.
Now, he’s the first man we go to when we need some defensive cover. Until Simunovic is back, that won’t be changing anytime soon. The fact he wants to stay makes him all the more valuable.