Stuart Armstrong appears to encounter more forks in the road these days than a rally driver.
In signing an improved two-year improved deal to stay at Celtic this time last year, the midfielder was never going to swerve speculation about his future for too long.
About to enter the final year of his contract again, the 26-year-old knows well how it works. Either he joins the likes of Tom Rogic and Kristoffer Ajer in committing to the club for the best years of his life. Or else it will protect its position by listening to all reasonable offers.
Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong has been linked with a summer move away from the club
Brighton and West Brom, his main potential suitors, have the capacity to offer him remuneration likely to be beyond Celtic’s reach.
For former Celtic skipper Tom Boyd, though, the player’s choice is becoming abundantly clear.
‘What do you want to be as a player?’ he asked. ‘Do you want to be a winner? Or do you want to just earn good money?
‘I really hope Stuart can stay at Celtic. We don’t want our best players leaving.
‘I know in the grand scheme of things there’s a big gap between the Scottish Premiership and the English Premiership. And he clearly has a decision to make.
‘But I don’t want to see Stuart go. Hopefully we can get him to stay – a five year contract would be nice.
‘I think he’s a happy man at Celtic. He’ll win things there.’ His medal haul to date isn’t too shabby, though. Four titles, two Scottish Cups, two League Cups – have all been attained in three-and-a-half years.
Former Celtic skipper Tom Boyd has urged the 26-year-old to stay at Celtic Park
Perhaps, for Celtic, therein lies the problem. Success may not have come easy to the former Dundee United player but he’s enjoyed it so quickly and to such an extent that he might feel the need for a challenge elsewhere.
And if it comes to pass that the player and his current paymasters come to an amicable agreement, shake hands and move on, Boyd feels the depth of the squad he’d leave behind would cope.
‘Celtic are well covered in the midfield areas,’ he said. ‘If something was to happen, that Stuart decides to leave, then we’ve certainly got a lot of other options.
‘We’ve got good players in there; (Callum) McGregor and (Tom) Rogic – similarly attack minded boys.
‘But, we don’t want a player like that to leave and what he brings to the football club. He’s got great drive and ability and we’d rather see him here.
‘At the moment, where it lies, if somebody was to come in and make a good offer then there needs to be serious consideration.
‘But he’s still a Celtic player and hopefully he will stay a Celtic player.’ Brendan Rodgers could certainly do with Armstrong remaining on board at least for the duration of the Champions League qualifiers.
Set to face the first of four hurdles on July 10/11, the Celtic manager faces an appreciably tougher task to take his side into the group stages than in the past two years.
Boyd hopes the Scottish champions can keep ahold of Armstrong and offer him a new deal
‘There’s so much against Celtic in terms of qualifying,’ Boyd offered.
‘They’ve now got four rounds to overcome and that’s a massive ask.
‘Hopefully they do well. But we need all of the other Scottish clubs to get better. It helps the coefficient. Ultimately, that can stop Celtic from having to play four qualifying rounds.
‘We need Scottish football to get better and I think the signs are there we can.’ With Steven Gerrard in at Rangers, Alan Stubbs the new manager of St Mirren, and Neil Lennon, Steve Clarke and Derek McInnes remaining in charge at Hibs, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, Boyd envisages the forthcoming domestic campaign being compelling.
‘The competition in the league is improving,’ he said. ‘I know Celtic are still the strongest side but things are getting better.
‘The Steven Gerrard factor is unknown at the moment. Hearts should also be better. Hibs did ever so well last year.
‘So we hope Scottish football can keep on the rise and get the country back on the map in terms of Europe.
‘We’ve seen it so many times in recent years, clubs being knocked out in the first round of qualifiers; clubs from countries like Estonia and even last year, Luxembourg.
‘To get better, to stop us having so many qualifiers, we need to achieve better results. It means everybody – it can’t just be one team delivering.’
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