Sport Xavi: Celtic shouldn’t have to qualify for the Champions League

14:05  19 june  2017
14:05  19 june  2017 Source:   Read Sport

Celtic offer contract to free agent defender Reto Ziegler

  Celtic offer contract to free agent defender Reto Ziegler Former Tottenham and Juventus defender Reto Ziegler says that Celtic are vying for his signature and have offered him a contract, as per a report in the Daily Record. The Swiss defender, who can play at left-back or centre-back, is out of contract at FC Sion and is believed to be weighing up a move to the Scottish champions. La Liga’s Real Betis are also said to be interested in the 31-year-old Sion captain. When asked whether Celtic and Real Betis had offered him contracts, Ziegler said: “That’s true. But before I meet with those two clubs I will also meet with the people who run Sion to find out more. The offers from Celtic and Betis are an honour for me. But without wanting to sound snooty, I think I deserve it, I’ve had a good season.” Ziegler has played in England, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Russia and Turkey and is now looking for a new challenge. Ziegler has spent the last three seasons at Sion and is regarded as one of the Swiss Super League’s most consistent performers. He could become Celtic’s first signing of the summer if a deal gets done quickly.

But Xavi reckons Scotland’s champions shouldn ’ t be asked to play three rounds of qualifiers to reach the groups. He said: “I don’t think that Celtic should be a club that has to qualify for the Champions League .

Xavi believes Celtic shouldn ' t have to face Champions League qualifying rounds (Photo: AFP). But Xavi reckons Scotland’s champions shouldn ’ t be asked to play three rounds of qualifiers to reach the groups.

FC Barcelona v Celtic - UEFA Champions League © David Ramos/Getty Images Sport FC Barcelona v Celtic - UEFA Champions League

Barcelona legend Xavi believes that a club of Celtic’s size shouldn’t have to go through Champions League qualifiers and that they should gain automatic entry into the group stages by wining the Scottish title, The Scotsman report.

Xavi, who currently plays in Qatar, also believes that Brendan Rodgers’ side should be aiming for the last 16 of Europe’s biggest club competition.

He said:

“When you consider the size of the club, their history, their stadium, they should qualify automatically by winning their league. I think Celtic’s ambition should be more than qualifying for the group stage, it should be to make it to the last 16.”

Celtic beat a number of clubs to land Barry Coffey

  Celtic beat a number of clubs to land Barry Coffey Celtic have beaten off competition from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City to sign Irish starlet Barry Coffey, according to a report in national newspaper The Scotsman. Coffey has been on the books of a number of Premier League clubs throughout the last 12 months and his profile grew as he helped Ireland win the Victory Shield in Edinburgh late last year. The 16-year-old playmaker appeared for Chelsea in a youth tournament last year and had been offered trials at both Manchester clubs, but decided against them, instead joining the current Scottish champions. The youngster made a huge impression playing for his home land club Nenagh AFC, and has decided to join Celtic, signing a three-year deal at Celtic Park. Coffey is set to join up with the treble winners’ development squad next month for the upcoming season where he’ll join a squad full of highly promising youngsters.

Xavi has faced Celtic several times throughout his career. Brendan Rodgers’ men must negotiate three qualifiers before they reach the lucrative group stages of Europe’s top competition. He told the Record: “I don’ t think that Celtic should be a club that has to qualify for the Champions League .

Thanks to their win in the Scottish League Championship last season, Glasgow Celtic will have an opportunity to qualify for the 2015 – 2016 UEFA Champions League via the playoffs.

Xavi has urged Rodgers to keep hold of his star striker Moussa Dembele, as well as adding quality to his squad:

“Dembele was one of the top forwards in Europe last season and any club must firstly make sure that they keep their best players. If they want to go up a level in the Champions League they must also look to add some quality.”

After winning the domestic treble last season, the aim for Rodgers in the upcoming campaign will be to put in an improved performance in the Champions League. Celtic overcame a slow start to get through the qualifiers but they then finished bottom of their group.

The club will look to bring in some reinforcements to add to the squad in the hope that they can qualify for the Champions League knockout stages or, at worst, finish third in the group and go into the Europa League.

What Celtic's European ambitions should be this season .
There is no denying the one improvement Brendan Rodgers’ side have to make this season, which is progression in European competition. Having only been in the door a few months, Rodgers provided Celtic with the opportunity to play in the promise land in the Champions League which gave the side valuable experience moving forward. The Hoops were a goal away in Germany from finishing third place and entering into the last 32 of the Europa League, but were not clinical enough to seal progression for European football after Christmas. This season however, you would expect them to progress to the knockout stages of European competition whether that is the Europa League or the Champions League. If anything, the expectation from last season’s treble triumph has only heaped more pressure on the Hoops to be as successful as last season. There is no doubt that Celtic’s level may drop this campaign due to the increased demands of European football. That shouldn’t deteriorate from the ultimate focus of Rodgers’ side continuing to dominate Scottish football. However, what would be a realistic target for Celtic in Europe football this coming season? Regardless of any outcome, the most important aspect for Celtic is to make it to the Champions League play-offs. This guarantees group stage European football. Over the last few seasons the third qualifying round has provided the Hoops with a few scares.

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