The inside scoop on Clarets target Nir Bitton - the Celtic midfielder linked with a January switch to Turf Moor

Celtic midfielder Nir Bitton would more than likely be utilised as a squad player if he was to move to the Premier League in January, according to an expert view from north of the border.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 11:33 am
Burnley target Nir Bitton closes down PSG's Neymar during Celtic's Champions League tie with the French champions

The 28-year-old Israeli international has been with the Bhoys for six years after Neil Lennon signed him from his homeland team FC Ashdod during his first spell as manager.

The six-time Scottish Premiership winner, who is out of contract in Glasgow in the summer, featured prominently under Ronny Deila at Celtic Park, but found opportunities harder to come by when Brendan Rodgers was appointed as the Norwegian coach's successor in May 2016.

Bitton was then sidelined for almost a year having required surgery on a debilitating knee injury at the beginning of 2018, returning as a late substitute in a 3-0 win over Airdrieonians in the Scottish FA Cup last term.

He's since made just eight league starts for Celtic. "He's not really featured properly for Celtic for a good few years now, said Mark Atkinson, of the Edinburgh Evening News, a sister title of The Scotsman.

"He picked up a serious knee injury and that certainly curtailed his Celtic career. Brendan Rodgers rated him, but he didn't really utilise him as he preferred a more attacking minded midfielder.

"He was versatile in the sense that he could pass a ball and he broke up play well, but he was superseded by the likes of Callum McGregor and would often be shuffled back in to a centre-half position if used."

The Clarets are believed to have opened talks with the midfielder ahead of a January switch to Turf Moor and a £1m fee has been projected.

However, Bitton, who has 25 caps for his country, wouldn't be viewed as an upgrade on Burnley's current options in the centre of midfield.

Bitton, who featured in both of Celtic's recent triumphs over Serie A side Lazio in the Europa League group stages, would likely be used to sure things up from the bench if necessary.

"He's not featured very much this season and you'd have to consider him to be a reserve player for Celtic," said Atkinson. "If you were to pick Celtic's full strength team he wouldn't be in it.

"He'll largely be used from the bench in a defensive capacity or as a holding midfielder, he's played 28 times in the last three seasons, and that gives you an idea of where he stands.

"I could see why he would fit in to Burnley's midfield because he does the dirty work. He's in a similar mould as Beram Kayal, though he's not as visionary.

"I wouldn't say he's much of an upgrade on those guys (Ashley Westwood and Jack Cork) in Burnley's midfield.

"He's robust, but I don't think he would come in as a direct replacement. He's well regarded at Celtic, he's been there for a long time, but it's probably the right time for him to move on."