Report: Celtic to offer Conor Hazard new contract after Lille and Kilmarnock displays
Conor Hazard is close to agreeing a new contract with Celtic after blitzing his way to becoming the club’s number one, the Scottish Sun reports.
The newspaper claims that talks between Hazard’s representatives and the Hoops have been ongoing since the summer. They believe that Neil Lennon is now keen to tie down Hazard on a new deal after solid displays against Lille and Kilmarnock respectively.
The Courier reported last month that Hazard had actually rejected the opportunity to stay at Parkhead for the long-term in the summer. It was said he had turned down a new contract, and that his decision prompted the Hoops not to send him out on loan to Dundee.
But things couldn’t have gone better for him since then, with both Vasilis Barkas and Scott Bain both struggling to impress. Lennon has thrown Hazard in, and watched on as he made a good reaction stop in yesterday’s 2-0 win against Kilmarnock.
Hazard now looks the prime candidate to feature in a host of crucial December matches, including next weekend’s Scottish Cup final vs Hearts at Hampden.
Hazard could be one from the new group that Lennon keeps in
There’s undoubtedly been a freshness about the club over the last week thanks to the introduction of the likes of Hazard, David Turnbull, Ismaila Soro, and even a more comfortable-looking Shane Duffy.
However, most of them could drop out after Lennon said he would likely be loyal next week to those who got Celtic to Hampden in the first place. That puts the likes of Scott Brown, Ryan Christie, and Olivier Ntcham in the frame for minutes against the Jambos.
But Hazard is one of the ones who could get away with keeping his place. Fraser Forster was in goal for Celtic’s Scottish Cup matches last season. The Hoops beat Aberdeen 2-0 at Hampden last month, but it was the struggling Bain who took place in nets for that one. There’s hardly an element of loyalty needing to be paid to a player who only played one game.
So the Northern Ireland youngster has a massive opportunity to keep his place in the side when Robbie Neilson’s men come calling at the national stadium. There’s no justification for playing either Bain or Barkas.
We’ll see what happens, but you would imagine these contract talks have gone well for Hazard. Given he reportedly rejected a new one in the summer, you have to imagine he wanted more first-team guarantees. That may very well be something Lennon has given him.
If he has been, this is his big moment to prove he’s Celtic number one material.