Stefan Johansen reveals he is still in Celtic contract negotiations as boss Brendan Rodgers is left to ponder midfielder's future

  • Stefan Johansen has a year left on his deal and could be sold this summer
  • The midfielder is in contract negotiations but he may not put pen to paper 
  • Brendan Rodgers must assess Johansen after a disappointing season
  • The Norway international was Celtic's Player of the Year 12 months ago 

As Brendan Rodgers begins the process of analysing the squad inherited at Celtic, carefully assessing whether each individual can deliver what he wants next season, he may have particular reason to pause over Stefan Johansen's name.

The Norwegian midfielder has become a truly perplexing figure. Player of the Year 12 months ago, his vertiginous decline in form was a regular theme in the season just completed.

Those toils have also created an element of apathy among Celtic supporters about his future. Something which remains cloaked in uncertainty.

Stefan Johansen has revealed that he is still in contract negotiations with Celtic as his deal runs down

Stefan Johansen has revealed that he is still in contract negotiations with Celtic as his deal runs down

New Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will have to decide whether to sell Johansen this summer

New Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers will have to decide whether to sell Johansen this summer

Speaking ahead of Norway's friendly in Portugal on Sunday evening, Johansen confirmed that a contract extension has still not been agreed.

'We have been in contract negotiations for a while, but I have not signed anything yet,' he said. 'We'll see if it happens or not.

'I completely trust that my agent does what is best for me. I have a year left on my contract with Celtic and I'm focusing on that. I will not say any more.'

In theory, Johansen could strike a pre-contract arrangement with an admirer in the Bundesliga or elsewhere at the turn of the year.

Celtic would, though, be understandably unwilling to risk the prospect of losing a 25-year-old international player for nothing. So no extension will surely mean a summer sale.

Will the presence of Rodgers persuade Johansen to sign? Or will the former Liverpool manager accept his sale to help increase the financial leeway at his disposal? Let's face it, Celtic are not exactly short on midfield options as it stands.

Johansen, pictured scoring in August 2015, enjoyed a fine first season and was Celtic's Payer of the Year

Johansen, pictured scoring in August 2015, enjoyed a fine first season and was Celtic's Payer of the Year

Yet there are certainly qualities within the player that would appeal to Rodgers. While not at the standard of, say, a James Milner, he has the energy to aid Rodgers' belief in a high-pressing game. The problem is that his output isn't always precisely focused, as a total of 15 bookings across all competitions last season would tend to suggest.

Johansen can also bring a capacity for goals, albeit one that has been well hidden in more recent times.

His runs beyond the forward line delivered 13 goals in that award-winning season, his first at Parkhead under Ronny Deila. But such an incisive contribution didn't last. Last term, Johansen failed to net at all beyond September.

'This is a clear signal from Celtic,' Johansen said of Rodgers. 'The club has appointed a manager with a lot of experience, he has coached big clubs like Liverpool and Swansea.

'I think he will be a good match for Celtic, and the football he stands for is also suitable for the club. I haven't talked to him yet and I don't know him personally.'

If not before, those discussions will occur when Johansen returns to Glasgow for pre-season training in the latter part of next month.

Johansen believes the appointment of former Liverpool boss Rodgers was 'a clear signal from Celtic' 

Johansen believes the appointment of former Liverpool boss Rodgers was 'a clear signal from Celtic' 

One way or another, he will have to adapt to new leadership. The Deila days are over.

There were times last season when the Norwegian manager had to steadfastly reject the accusation that he showed favouritism towards his compatriot, with whom he had previously worked at Stromsgodset.

Again, the perception, however unfair, was a product of Johansen's fading form. Frustrated Celtic supporters were often left to grumble about his selection ahead of alternatives. There was usually a vexed tone when Johansen's name was aired on radio phone-ins.

The midfielder is certainly grateful for how Deila has helped his career and praised the manner in which his exit from Celtic was handled. He is, however, adamant that he can find renewed success without him.

'I hope it is not only under Ronny Deila that I can play football,' added Johansen. 'Last season, we did not achieve the results we wanted.

'Yes, we won the league, but it's not enough. At least not for the fans, we need to be in the Champions League.

'Ronny took things in a very nice way. He had a chat with us players before it (his departure) became public, and shared his thoughts in a very nice way.

'We have worked together a long time and it has been very, very good. Ronny is still a young coach with everything ahead of him. I am quite sure he will be successful wherever he goes next in his career.'

Johansen is currently away with the Norwegian national side as they prepare to face Portugal on Sunday

Johansen is currently away with the Norwegian national side as they prepare to face Portugal on Sunday

For new boss Rodgers, though, it is all about preparing Celtic for the Champions League qualifiers. After two successive seasons of failure under Deila, a return to the group stage is an obvious priority.

The Parkhead club will learn their initial opponents on June 20 before Rodgers encounters his first competitive match on July 12 or 13.

Presuming they don't suffer an early disaster, Celtic will have played four of the six qualifiers needed to reach the group stage before the new SPFL Premiership season begins on the weekend of August 5.

The arrival of Rodgers will add an extra layer of interest to domestic matters. So, too, will the return of Rangers after a four-year absence and emboldened by the signing of Joey Barton.

Old Firm matches will be restored as a staple part of the diet after Celtic's penalty shoot-out defeat in last month's Scottish Cup semi-final hastened Deila' s departure.

'I know how big it is when we play Rangers - I have played against them twice before and the whole city is turned upside down,' said Johansen.

'But we mustn't focus only on Rangers. We have to treat every game the same whether it is Rangers, Aberdeen or Hearts.

'The Old Firm is very special. When you see the huge amount of interest it generates, it's one of the biggest games in the world and is great fun to play in.

'But there is an expectation at Celtic to win trophies and who we play is not important.'

 

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