- Nir Bitton recently signed a new five-year deal with Celtic until 2020
- However, Bitton has been linked with a move to the Premier League
- The 24-year-old is adamant he wants to continue improving with Celtic
John Mcgarry For The Scottish Daily Mail
18:17 EST, 11 December 2015
18:18 EST, 11 December 2015
Nir Bitton has reaffirmed his long-term commitment to Celtic by describing any suggestion he’s ready to leave the club as ‘crazy’.
The Israeli midfielder’s longevity with the Scottish champions was called into question last weekend when his agent told a radio station in his homeland that he was set to move to the English Premier League in the summer.
Despite a subsequent u-turn by Dudu Dahan and a statement from Celtic rubbishing such speculation, the 24-year-old remains on the radar of a string of potential suitors down south.
Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton (right) has reiterated his desire to continue playing for the Scottish giants
But having recently signed a fresh five-year deal with the Scottish champions, Bitton broke his silence on the matter to confirm his intention to see at least the bulk of that time out in Glasgow.
‘There has been a lot of speculation about me in the last days but I don’t care,’ Bitton said.
‘Everybody can say what they want – I have no control over that.
‘All I care about is Celtic. I’ve just signed a five-year contract so to say I am going to leave now is a bit crazy.
‘The most important thing for me is Celtic and I just want to keep improving myself here.
‘I said when I signed, I really appreciated when the club offered me five years and as soon as I got the offer I didn’t think twice.
‘I just told my agent – okay let’s do it. I just want to continue here now.’
Despite exiting the Europa League against Ajax two weeks ago, Celtic’s campaign ended on a positive note with a draw in Istanbul against Fenerbahce on Thursday.
Bitton’s signed a deal with the Bhoys until 2020 with manager Ronny Deila likening him to Sergio Busquets
Bitton believes the draw with the Turks belatedly showed that Ronny Deila’s side can compete at a decent level in Europe and that the performance offered something to build on ahead of next summer’s Champions League qualifiers.
‘It is a hard place to play,’ he added. ‘We knew before the game that we’d have to defend as a team. We did that for most of the game.
‘They got the red card which helped us. After that, we deserved more but we need to look forward now.
‘It at least shows that we can compete at a high level. The Champions League is where Celtic belongs. Everybody in the club wants to play there of course.
‘Now we have finished with the European games so we need to focus on the domestic games, win as much as we can in Scotland and hopefully get to the group stages of the Champions League next year.
‘To have three points is still disappointing for us. We could have got more points from these games. The two games against Molde really hurt us.’
Bitton (left) featured for Celtic during their Europa League 1-1 draw at Fenerbahce on Thursday night
Yet again, the performance of teenage full back Kieran Tierney was a major plus point while Scott Allan did not look out of place in his first competitive start for the club.
‘There have been positives,’ Bitton reflected. ‘Kieran showed his qualities again against Fenerbahce. It’s not the first time he’s played well at a high level. He always wants to learn and put everything on the pitch.
‘These are the kind of guys we need in the team.’
Asked what the main lessons of a campaign that failed to yield a single win were, Bitton replied: ‘The main lessons are that in football a game is not finished until it is finished.
‘You saw what happened twice against Ajax and also at home to Fenerbahce.
‘In the Molde games, everyone expected us to beat them easy but it showed there are no easy games.
The 24-year-old (left) believes the draw in Turkey can stead Celtic in good stead looking ahead to next season
‘We started the group quite well with a draw at Ajax away and then were leading 2-0 against Fenerbahce at home only for that to end up 2-2.
‘Obviously we then lost two games to Molde which changed our plans. In football you never know what is happening. We just need to look forward.’
Meanwhile, Celtic are set to face a UEFA hearing on December 16 after fans let off flares during the Fenerbahce clash.
Three flares were lit in the away end and now the club has been charged under Article 16 (2) of the disciplinary regulations and the case will be heard by the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body next Wednesday.