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Celtic will snub any fresh move for Boyata, says Rodgers after Premiership bid rejected

By Ronnie Esplin

Boss Brendan Rodgers anticipates the Celtic board rejecting any bid for Dedryck Boyata.

The Carnlough man confirmed that Fulham's offer for the 27-year-old Belgium defender had been knocked back, with the fee reported as £9million.

While the London club could be ready to return with more money before the English transfer window closes tomorrow afternoon, the Hoops manager - while mindful of the business aspect of big money possibly coming in for a player in the last year of his contract - is keen to keep Boyata.

Rodgers, who revealed French midfielder Olivier Ntcham has shaken off an Achilles problem ahead of their Champions League third qualifying round first leg against AEK Athens at Parkhead tonight, said: "Yes, we have had a few enquiries and there was a confirmed bid by Fulham for him.

"He is a player that we don't want to lose. We know he is in the last year of his deal.

"He has been a fantastic player for me in my time here, he had an excellent World Cup when he played.

"He is clearly a player of value, and at this point in time for us he is very important and so the club rejected that.

"At this stage it would be pretty difficult for us to sell him because there is not a replacement there.

"If you lose someone of that quality then the very least you need to have is someone of similar quality coming in and that is not the case at this moment.

"From the business side of the football, we need to make that work. But from the football perspective we don't need to sell any players.

"We have had two seasons of Champions League football and the club being on a high.

"I would anticipate that anything that would come in would be rejected."

The Parkhead club have reportedly had three bids rejected for Hibernian midfielder John McGinn.

However, despite the Scotland international reportedly being at Aston Villa's training ground for talks yesterday, Rodgers insists his interest has not ended but acknowledged the door has been left open for other clubs to snap the player up.

He said: "He is a player that we clearly wanted to bring here.

"I was really interested in bringing him in from a few months back.

"We haven't been able to complete a deal and, of course, when you don't complete a deal on a player, it always opens the door for other teams - a club like Aston Villa, who have clearly interest in him, who have a big history of their own, a great club with excellent facilities and now financial backing. So we have to wait and see on that one."

After dispensing with Armenian side Alashkert and Norwegian outfit Rosenborg in earlier qualifiers, Rodgers believes Greek champions AEK represent "another step up".

He said: "They are obviously champions of their country so that always makes them a tough opponent, because they have that winning mentality. They look a Champions League team to me.

"We know we can give them problems but we know it will be a real examination over two legs.

"If we can get a win with a clean sheet that will be a great result for us."

Meanwhile, Marinos Ouzounidis insists his AEK Athens players will cope with the red-hot atmosphere when his side face Celtic.

Ouzounidis, the former Panathinaikos manager who took over from Manuel Jimenez in the summer, will be in the technical area for his side's first competitive game of the season and knows Celtic Park will be packed to its 60,000 capacity.

However, he believes his side will have the experience to shut out the noise and get on with the task of taking a positive result back to Athens for the return game next Tuesday night.

Speaking before his squad trained at Celtic Park, Ouzounidis said: "I know they call Celtic Park a Paradise, but it will be a noisy Paradise.

"We know that it won't be a Paradise for us on Wednesday night. The atmosphere at Celtic Park is well known across Europe, but we will be ready for it.

"The players should enjoy the game. They should not be stressed out and give 100 per cent, do their best and play their normal game.

"Our players are used to the atmosphere when it is very noisy, it is like that in Greece with some of the big teams and big games.

"There will be a big crowd but we will concentrate on the game plan.

"The Celtic fans will shout for their team to win tomorrow night but we can't let that affect us. When we are in Greece, the same thing will happen."

Belfast Telegraph

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