Forrest to Zenit? ‘No Confirmation’, not happening as ‘Maverick’ Ntcham praised by boss

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ZENIT ST PETERSBURG have not bid for James Forrest. Nor did they bid for Jamesy’s best pal at Celtic, Tom Rogic last month, ahead of a European Qualifier. Today Neil Lennon said that there has been no confirmation that the Russian side, who Celtic played in the Europa League knock-out stages in February 2018, had any interest in signing The Celtic Star’s Player of the Year.

Seems to be something of a non-story, very similar to the one about Tom Rogic – who is still not ready to return to action incidentally.

Apparently the Russians were ready to launch a £12million bid to lure Forrest from Celtic, ready to offer the star man around £70,000 a week in wages. We didn’t believe it and therefore it’s not been on The Celtic Star but at least Neil Lennon cleared up the matter today at his Media Conference ahead of tomorrow’s second leg of the Third Champions League qualifier against Cluj.

Last week Celtic sold Kieran Tierney to Arsenal for £25million but gave no encouragement to Leicester City when they enquired about Callum McGregor. And if Zenit or any other club do enquire about Forrest – who has re-stated his desire to spend his entire career at Celtic – they will be told that the club have no interest in selling.

“He is another one that we don’t want to go,” Lenny said at the club’s media conference today.

“A big player, a big goalscorer. He has been here a long, long time. He is under contract.

“There is no confirmation of that (the apparent interest from Zenit), it is just speculation, but it doesn’t surprise me. However, from my point of view we want James here and he is happy here as well.

“It’s important to hold on to your better players, we have already sold one so we don’t want to sell any more.

“We are looking to add to the squad rather than selling any more of our important players and James certainly falls into that category.”

James Forrest’s goal on Saturday at Motherwell meant that he becomes the first Celtic player to score in eleven consecutive seasons since Paul McStay.

Celtic tweeted about this remarkable achievement this morning regarding the player who still doesn’t have a song.

Talking about more serious matters, The Celtic manager can’t wait for the Champions League tie against Cluj tomorrow night at Celtic Park, and he reckons his players will get the job done.

“The mentality is good and the quality of our play is excellent. We’re looking forward to another big European night at home in front of a good crowd with a good atmosphere that the players can feed off,” Lenny said, but he is not prepared to underestimate the Romanian champions.

“They’re a big strong team and have good pace in certain areas. They’re direct and a threat at set-pieces. I don’t think they’re going to be over physical, the game wasn’t in Romania.”

Other that Tom Rogic, The Celtic manager has a fully fit squad to choose from.

“Everyone’s fully fit,” he said. “Hatem and Jozo will come back into the squad now after the weekend so those two will be back in contention.” Mikey Johnston is also fit and available after missing out on the trip to Fir Park, with tomorrow’s match in mind.

Neil Lennon could not have asked for more from his players so far this season and that gives him confidence ahead of tomorrow night, which will be the biggest game so far.

“I’m delighted with the start and can’t ask for any more. Seven goals at home and then five away – it’s a remarkable standard that they’re setting already. I’m very, very pleased and we’ve negotiated a couple of European rounds quite well as well, so we’re in a good place at the minute.

“It’s all down to the players and the way they’re contributing, training and bringing it into the games. We’re in good condition. The players have worked very hard in pre-season and we’re seeing the benefit of that now. The mentality is good and the quality of our play is excellent.

“Every team wants to be challenged, and these boys enjoy the challenge. The mentality is good and it’s going to be very difficult to replicate what they’ve done domestically over the last few seasons, but you never say never with these boys.”

And the boss went out if his way to praise Olivier Ntcham, who Sandman gave Man of the Match in his hilarious Definitive Ratings on Saturday – Sandman’s Definitive Ratings – ‘C’est la vie, baby,’ Celtic at Midsummer Murderwellssee HERE.

“I thought he got better as the game went on,” Lenny said.

“He seems in a good place and seems happy and he’s a real asset for us when he’s on top form. The key for Olivier now is maintaining that consistency.

“He lost a little bit with injury last year. It’s important that he reinvents himself and finds those levels of performance which he’s shown so far and we know that he’s capable of. He’s very talented and has so much to his game.

“He has a bit of the maverick in him at times, he has great talent and vision and, as the game wore on against Motherwell, he was exceptionally good. More of the same, that’s what we want.

“He’s the type of player we want at Celtic – he has a bit of flare to him.”

Lenny refused to discuss the speculation this morning linking Celtic with a move for Kilmarnock’s Greg Taylor, saying that he doesn’t discuss interest in players under contract at other clubs.

If you can’t make the game tomorrow it is being shown live on Celtic TV to all subscribers – that includes in Britain and Ireland. Still time to subscribe – see below!

Also on The Celtic Star today…

To Lisbon and back on a fiver – Friday 26 May, ETA and Rasputin, the Basque Monk…see HERE.

Celtic’s Dublin Delight – Dion’s one and only career medal…see HERE.

Celtic Exit Likely for Rodgers Signing – ‘I feel good here, develop as a player and feel like part of the team’…see HERE.

Celtic v Cluj – Paradise set for Champions League sell-out…see HERE.

‘The manager’s got us playing good attacking football,’ Lewis Morgan…see HERE.

To Lisbon and back on a fiver – Thursday 25 May, Champions of Europe…see HERE.

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