According to the Scottish Sun, Nir Bitton is wanted by Maccabi Tel-Aviv as the latest departure rumour at Celtic kicks off.
Bitton has been with the Hoops for seven-and-a-half years after signing from Ashdod in August 2013. Throughout that time, the Israeli has managed to make over 230 appearances for the club [Transfermarkt].
The Sun reports that Bitton is unlikely to want to leave. However, Maccabi are said to be plotting a summer move to end the midfielder-turned-centre-back’s long-term stay in Glasgow.
The newspaper also states that Celtic won’t be willing to let Bitton go on the cheap. Considering he has two years remaining on his contract, the Israel international remains a valuable asset to the champions.
And with Neil Lennon being the one who brought him to Glasgow, it’s unlikely he fancies the idea of a Bitton departure.
Nir Bitton worth keeping for now; Celtic rebuild will tell us where we’re at
Bitton has always been a divisive figure amongst the Celtic support. That’s been amplified since his move to centre-back, where many feel he just isn’t naturally suited to the role.
Even so, he’s made a decent 20 appearances for us this season [Transfermarkt]. He’s still made a decent contribution, even if the season has been a total disaster this term. He’s still clearly valued by Lennon.
But as we all hope that change sweeps Celtic this summer, let’s look at things under the assumption we have a new manager in the door. In that scenario, you can see the slate being wiped clean. It’s very conceivable to see the club cashing in on Bitton.
Yet at the same time, this should only be done when we’re confident in the options we have. Like it or not, we’re already scheduled to be short of centre-back options this summer. Shane Duffy will almost certainly be heading back to Brighton permanently, whilst Kris Ajer looks favourite to be sold.
Hatem Elhamed is set to leave the club to head back to Israel too. That’s not to mention the fact that Chris Jullien’s injury may see him come back a less effective player for all we know. That’s three centre-backs likely leaving the club whilst one is undergoing a severe injury. It doesn’t feel right to let go of a fifth option too early.
It’s essential we allow the new manager to rebuild the backline in his own image. Only then should we make a decision on Bitton’s future. As only then will we be able to truly take stock of our strength in the position. If Tel-Aviv want this deal one, they should be made to wait.