Kieran Tierney’s many suitors, including Manchester United and Tottenham, have been warned by John Hartson that “Celtic is a hard place to leave” and they may struggle to lure a player held in the same regard as Henrik Larsson away from Glasgow.
The 21-year-old full-back continues to generate transfer talk despite regular statements from both the Scotland international and his manager, Brendan Rodgers, that no summer switch is being sought.
Former Hoops striker Hartson hopes interest can be fended off, as it is important that the fan favourite stays put for a few more years before going on to fulfil his undoubted potential in the Premier League at some stage in the future.
He told the Evening Times: “I have been wracking my brains for a while now and just the other day I eventually came up with an answer. Henrik Larsson.
“Let me explain. In all my time associated with Celtic, as a player, former player and now supporter, my old team-mate, a decent centre-forward as it so happens, is the only one I can think who was/is as loved as Kieran Tierney.
“Now that is one compliment to give to the kid from Motherwell.
“I got a lot of love from the fans. So, too, Neil Lennon, Stan Petrov and right now Scott Brown is an icon and rightly so. But KT really is ‘one of our own'.
“KT is the hero. He is the fan on the pitch. Had he not been brilliant at football, he would be standing in the corner with all his pals. Is it any wonder, in my view, that no Celtic player has been idolised since that Swedish bloke.
“He loves Celtic. Everyone knows that. He said just recently that if he could stay at the club for the rest of his career then his dreams would come true. Ah, but you just know what it coming. But. There is always a but.
“Put yourself in his shoes. Everton will come in with a serious bid, and Tottenham have been mentioned as well, and the lad has a big decision to make.
“Brendan Rodgers himself said he would never stand in his player’s way if a club met the valuation, which I see as £25 million-plus, and his wages would be as much as esven times what he’s on now – and that’s hardly peanuts.”
Hartson added: “Of course Tierney could play down there. That isn’t even up for debate. I have him down as just about the best left back in the country, and by that I mean Britain.
“At £25m he would be the most expensive Scottish player ever. The money swirling around England is ridiculous, but this is about the right fee for such a talent. The big question now is: what will he do?
“I would stay at least until the Champions League qualifiers were done and then after that…one or two more seasons and then I’d go.
“Time is on Tierney’s side. His price tag is only going to go up. He could play with Celtic for another year, gain some more experience, and then make the move we all knew would come.
“He might go. If he does, good luck to him. He will get a big club, a big pay rise and he’s already part of Celtic folklore.
“However, it is worth repeating that there is nowhere better to play than Celtic Park. Ask anyone lucky enough to pull on that jersey. The Premier League is one hell of a temptation. But Celtic is a hard place to leave.”