BRENDAN Rodgers last night revealed that he had not given up hope of keeping Dedryck Boyata at Celtic over the summer, even though half of the center is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club next month.
Belgian defender Boyata was once again outstanding for Rodgers' team in his limited final win of the Betfred Cup against Aberdeen at Hampden on Sunday afternoon.
The 28-year-old had his head stitched up following a collision with rival wing Gary Mackay-Steven in the first half and played until a stretch of the biceps femoris forced him to drop early in the second.
The player was whistled by Celtic supporters in August after declaring himself unfit to take part in a crucial Champions League match against AEK Athens – when his coach insisted he could – among Fulham's interests.
The Scottish champions lost the game in Greece by 2-1, losing a lucrative place in the group stages of the most important club competition of Europe for the third consecutive season.
However, since then the man who played three games for his country at the finals of Russia 2018 has conquered the fans with some exceptional performances at the national level and in the continental competition.
Rodgers, who helped turn an entertaining player into Scottish football into a regular Belgian debut, has no concern for Boyata's commitment to the Celtic cause despite the uncertainty about his future.
"I was very proud of Dedryck," he said of his heroic show against Aberdeen. "It was a difficult summer for him anyway, but it's really satisfying to see how he overcame this and how he performed, and since he had that little episode it was absolutely brilliant for us.
"That partnership with (Filip) Benkovic has been very good, he's doing everything for the cause, he's super professional, he's played a lot of games now for the world's No. 1 football team, Belgium. find it is a great merit for him. "
Rodgers added, "It's in the last year, but I'm pretty relaxed, probably looking at every option, creating a market for himself now because of how he performed, which is great for him. they are short.
"There was no lack of commitment on his part from the summer, as you saw, but as a professional player he has every right to wait and see what happens, I can assure everyone that he does not take his commitment to what we're doing, the next contract will probably be the last big of his career and just make sure it's the right one. "
Rodgers accepts Boyata, who was signed for £ 1.5 million by Manchester City in 2015 by his predecessor Ronny Deila, will attract the interest of major league clubs across Europe and recognizes that he can increase his salary by moving elsewhere.
However, Northern Ireland, who won the seventh consecutive trophy of his two-and-a-half reign as Celtic Sunday manager, is still giving hope to the player left in Glasgow.
Asked if Boyata could stay at Celtic after his contract expires in the summer, Rodgers said, "Maybe, I think he's just weighing in. He's 28, he's in the last year of his contract, he has to give a & # 39; Look at his situation We know that at some point we lose some of these players, but at the moment we know where it is, as I said, I'm relaxed with it. "