Report: Four Championship clubs eyeing up Celtic's Jonny Hayes

By David Walton

December 31, 2019

Four Championship sides are reportedly eyeing up Jonny Hayes ahead of a summer Bosman move.

According to the Daily Record, Preston, Middlesbrough, Stoke, and Cardiff City are all keen on taking Hayes in the summer. The winger is free to talk to clubs as of tomorrow with his contract winding down at Parkhead.

The Record believes that Neil Lennon expected to begin talks over Hayes’ renewal 10 days ago. Yet, still Celtic have yet to make contact with the player or his agent.

Jonny Hayes’ contract is up in the summer (Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Neil Lennon has touched on Hayes’ situation in the past, and has confirmed that previous “tentative” talks have taken place. (STV). However, the Record’s report states that the player could be open to a move south this summer.

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Hayes is one of three left-back options currently at the club, and has made 19 appearances this season (Transfermarkt).

A situation Celtic shouldn’t have left themselves be in

It’s frustrating that we’ve allowed Hayes to enter the final six months of his contract. Why this wasn’t done and dusted a couple of months ago is questionable.

Hayes has done a fine job this season (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

The fact is that clubs can now look to present their case to Hayes in the second half of the season. There’s no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be tempted by regular first-team football either. Considering he’s largely considered to be back-up to Boli Bolingoli, the idea of being a first-choice elsewhere could be difficult to turn down.

You have to imagine that Boli’s performance against Rangers will speed up the process for Hayes’ contract talks at Celtic. There is real uncertainty over Bolingoli and the way he’s been performing recently. That we would allow one of our other left-backs to potentially leave at the end of the season would be risky business.

Bear in mind that it’s also not great to have a player pre-occupied with where they’ll end up next term. We need Hayes’ mind on the title-race and nothing else. Having important players such as him sweating over an extended stay should really be avoided.

Neil Lennon is a fan of Hayes (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’ll be interesting to see how Celtic react to the reported interest. Hayes is such an established star in Scotland that there will certainly be offers for him should he wish to depart.

But with both the player and the manager apparently keen to extend his deal at Parkhead, hopefully the advantage still sits with us.