Neil Lennon: Ryan Christie should stay and improve at Celtic before seeking fresh challenge

As with Stuart Armstrong before him, it should surprise no one that Ryan Christie is open to sampling new experiences in what is a short career.

Celtic's Ryan Christie in action during the recent Scottish Premiership win over Motherwell at Fir Park (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Celtic's Ryan Christie in action during the recent Scottish Premiership win over Motherwell at Fir Park (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

He is the last player to rock any boats. But he has already made it known to manager Neil Lennon that he does at some point want a fresh challenge. And he doesn't just mean a starring part in the club’s new Christmas advert.

Still only 25, the midfielder’s best years could well lie ahead of him, which is saying something considering he’s already proving so indispensable to both Celtic and Scotland.

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This season alone could end with him having helped Celtic to complete a quadruple treble and ten-in-a-row with an appearance in Scotland’s first major finals in 23 years still to come in the summer.

Christie did as much as anyone to get Steve Clarke’s side to Euro 2020 with his goal in the play-off final against Serbia. His current contract does not expire until the end of next season. If Celtic want to earn money from him in the transfer market, next summer would probably be the time to listen to offers.

But manager Neil Lennon has revealed that discussions have already begun with Christie in a bid to extend the former Inverness Caledonian Thistle player’s stay at Celtic, albeit the player has indicated he does, at some point, have a desire to seek new horizons.

Lennon understands this sense of curiosity, indeed he welcomes it. However, he has stressed that Christie still has things to achieve at Celtic, where he believes Christie can become a yet better player.

“Talks are ongoing between the club and his representatives,” said Lennon. “He has also said he would like a different challenge at some stage in his career. “Currently, I think he still has a lot to do and prove here at Celtic and to be fair to him he's worked really hard the last few games.

“There's been no agitation or dropping off in his intensity level. He's just like the rest, a little bit inconsistent at times but we understand that. I was delighted with his form going into the international break and he has carried that on (with Scotland).”

As well as scoring one of Scotland’s most priceless goals of recent times, Christie also found he had endeared himself to a vast number of non-Scots as well after his tearful interview with Luke Shanley of Sky Sports after the game quickly went viral. Lennon, too, appreciated the sincerity displayed by Christie as he sought to relay how it felt to have made history in Belgrade.

“Ryan’s interview was brilliant,” said Lennon. “It shows how much it means to him. I am sure a lot of people watching could relate to it as it has been a long time.” However, as Lennon noted, “my job is manage Celtic”. He can’t allow himself to get too carried away by Scotland’s success.

Celtic have their own must-win game in the Europa League against Sparta Prague on Thursday night to prepare for as they seek to atone for the 4-1 home defeat against the same side earlier this month. “A point isn’t any good and we don’t want to lose it, so we are going all out to win,” said Lennon.

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