Brendan Rodgers concedes that Kieran Tierney may leave Celtic at some stage in the future, but expects the Manchester United target to remain at Parkhead for “a few years yet”.
Having emerged as one of the most exciting prospects in Scottish football, the 20-year-old defender is starting to attract interest from afar.
He has committed to a long-term contract with Celtic and regularly expressed a desire to remain in Glasgow, but transfer talk refuses to go away – with United among those in the market for a new left-back.
Rodgers is aware of the speculation, and admits a deal may be done further down the line, but the Hoops boss is expecting Tierney to still be with the Scottish Premiership champions in 2018-19.
He told reporters when quizzed on the exit rumours: “I don’t put any speculation or figure around him.
“Everyone sees the market now and there is a market out there for top talents and particularly young talents. But he’s a player who’s not for sale. He’s still got development to go and he is in a great place to learn.
“If you play for a big club in whatever country, there will always be people watching you. Obviously there is a dearth of good left-backs around and with Kieran’s qualities and huge potential still as a young player, that is always going to draw the eyes of top teams.
“Kieran has great qualities. He has a really good temperament and that is getting better in big games. Tactically, he understands the game much better. Physically, he can cope with any league in the world. He has got stronger and faster. He is playing at a big club."
Rodgers added: “You see his passion and love for Celtic. I’m sure there will be times over the next few years when that will be tested, because obviously there will be a financial implication there that you have to think about, and he can’t not have that opportunity if it comes. But I don’t think it’s something that’s on his radar.
“He knows that to leave Celtic, ever, it has to be a win-win situation for him and the club so that people go ‘okay, we can see that one’. It tends to be more that sort of moral issue that comes into it, in terms of being on ‘X’ amount at Celtic, another club can give him more and they give you a big fee as a club.
“It’s very, very difficult for a young player to turn that down. If the player doesn’t want to go, it’s okay – you’ll not be pushing him out the door. He’s a Celtic supporter and that means everything to him, but football’s a business now for players and I think he’s recognising that if you’re playing over 15 years of your life and you’re at this club for whatever – another four or five years – he might feel that this is the happiest he’ll ever be.
“This is where football becomes a business. I hear now of so many players of years gone by, bless them, who’ve never earned the money and then people talk of loyalty and say, ‘Oh, they played this many games and blah, blah, blah’ and ‘what a player he was.’ Then they say, ‘Oh he’s struggling at the minute.’ So, you have to look after yourself and that’s the modern world. But he’s a great kid and I’m sure he’ll be here for a few years yet.”