SPL

The Rogic dilemma: Should Celtic stick or twist?

 • by Stefan Bienkowski
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Despite winning their seventh consecutive Scottish Premiership title with Sunday’s 5-0 win over rivals Rangers, Celtic will be intent on keeping their attention on challenges yet to come. First, they have a Scottish Cup final to win. After that lies a summer transfer window with plenty of hurdles to clear.

Perhaps the most obvious one is that of Tom Rogic’s future at the club. The Australian international has long been a fan favourite and legitimate star at Celtic Park.

Yet the attacking midfielder still hasn’t signed a new contract with the Scottish Champions. With his current deal expiring in 2019 it’s beginning to make a few figures around the club sweat.

“Tom’s a massive talent and we hope we can keep him here. There’s nothing sinister in it,” Rodgers claimed on Wednesday.

“He’ll take his time and I’ll always support players, whatever their decisions are. Hopefully, he can stay and agree a long-term deal.”

However, as May rolls along and June gets closer the need for action will only grow among the powerbrokers at Celtic.

With the best intentions in the world, the club may have to make a decision this summer: do they keep Rogic for one more season or sell him for the highest price?

For a start, Rogic isn’t exactly irreplaceable at Celtic and he certainly hasn’t been a consistent attacking threat for Rodgers’ team this season. With eight goals and eight assists, the 25-year-old has found form at certain points in the season but such performances tend to cluster together around big games or over the course of two or three matches.

Although the Griffith native has a remarkable ability to score against Rangers – four goals in as many games this season – which makes him a firm favourite among fans, Rogic hasn’t been nearly as consistent as the likes of Callum McGregor or Olivier Ntcham from a central attacking position over the course of the whole season.

Indeed, McGregor is considered by many as the biggest benefactor of Rodgers’ coaching at the club, with his role growing from a backup midfielder or full back to that of a leading attacking midfielder in Champions League clashes.

Tom Rogic scores for Celtic against Rangers

While Rogic may have a knack of grabbing the headlines two or three times a season, it is McGregor who has played his way into the hearts of most Celtic fans.

Similarly, the signing of Ntcham has also reduced Celtic’s reliance on Rogic. Although the former Manchester City youngster was signed to play a prominent central role alongside Scott Brown, he has shown an ability to venture forward and pick out passes or goals in a similar fashion to Rogic.

Whether on purpose or by sheer luck, Celtic have another exciting young attacking midfielder on their books who can play in Rogic’s role next season.

There’s also the fact Celtic have a very clear strategy of selling players to the Premier League at opportune moments. Although the Scottish champions would never describe themselves as a selling club, they have managed to make a fortune over the past decade from facilitating their key players’ desires when an English giant comes calling. And for Rogic that certainly seems to be the case.

The 25-year old has been subject of Southampton transfer rumours for the past 12 months and could be tempted to test Celtic’s resolve with an offer this summer.

Although the Glasgow side wouldn’t be able to demand a full price due to the expiring contract, both clubs have extensive experience negotiating with one another over the past few years and would quickly find a compromise that suits both parties.

After all, if Southampton could convince Celtic to part with Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Fraser Forster they should be able to snap up Rogic too.

And who would begrudge him a move? Although it’s hard to swallow, Celtic fans are well aware of their place in the pecking order of European football.

If the Bhoys can secure a handsome return for a player preparing to leave for free the following summer then such a move will be filed under “good business” by most. Especially if it leads to more game time and wages for Stuart Armstrong – whose contract also expires next summer.

Rogic may still renew his contract and spend the rest of his days at Celtic, but Peter Lawwell and the club haven’t got this far by winging it from one day to the next.

If Rogic won’t sign a new contract then some tough decisions may need to be made. Luckily, Celtic already seem to have adequate cover in place.

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