Hertha set to sign Boyata

Celtic defender Dedryck Boyata will join Hertha Berlin this summer, the Bundesliga side have confirmed.

The Belgian centre back's contract expires at the end of the season, with Boyata having been out of action since an injury sustained in an Old Firm win over Rangers in March.

Boyata – who was part of Belgium's World Cup squad last summer – moved to Glasgow from Manchester City in 2015 during Ronny Deila's tenure and has made 125 appearances for Celtic.

"We've had Dedryck in our sights for some time and are fully convinced of his qualities," said Hertha general manager Michael Preetz.

"We are confident that he is a real reinforcement for our defence."

Celtic's interim manager Neil Lennon said last month he was hoping a new deal would be agreed.

Hertha finished 11th in the Bundesliga this season and the defender says the club did a good job on selling a move to him.

"The club is ambitious and has goals that I stand by and I was very impressed by how Michael Preetz tried to talk to me and showed me a clear plan," said the 28-year-old.

Celtic are also face losing another centre-back, Filip Benkovic, this summer when the 21-year-old's loan deal from Leicester City ends, though the Bhoys will hope they can convince former manager Brendan Rodgers that another season-long loan in Scotland will serve him best.

Celtic meanwhile are 4/11 to win Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Hearts. The Jambos are 15/2 while the draw is 15/4 for their Hampden Park showdown.

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Gerrard plays down Mexer links

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has played down his chances of signing Mozambique international defender Mexer from Rennes this summer.

The 30-year-old centre-back was recently watched by Gerrard as Rennes took on Monaco, but the Gers chief says he has been given a strong indication that the player will remain in France next season.

Gerrard told reporters ahead of the Old Firm clash with Celtic at Ibrox on Sunday: "I think you've probably seen the picture in the public domain. I went to watch Rennes v Monaco to analyse a lot of players on the pitch, bumped into numerous players after the game and was asked for a picture.

"I think people are putting a lot of speculation out there.

"We are looking for centre-backs and Mexer is a good player who we admire, but what I'm led to believe is that he'll be playing his football in France next year.

"Don't take that as fact, that's just what I'm hearing through the grapevine."

Mexer has been with Rennes since the summer of 2014 and was a member of the side who defeated Paris Saint-Germain on penalties in the final of the Coupe de France last month.

The defender netted the equaliser which completed a comeback from two goals behind, with Les Rouges et Noirs going on to prevail 6-5 in a penalty shootout to lift the trophy for the first time since 1971.

Rennes are in Ligue 1 action on Sunday when they host Guingamp, with the home side 10/11 to win the game and 15/2 to do so by a 2-1 scoreline.

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Forrest revels Ibrox defeat motivation

James Forrest claims Celtic's 1-0 defeat to Rangers back in December's Old Firm clash served as an inspiration for the remainder of the campaign.

Since the start of 2019, the only defeats Celtic have suffered have come in the Europa League, as they continued to dominate on a domestic front to be crowned Premiership champions and reach the Scottish Cup final.

Forrest feels the turning point in the campaign was a 1-0 loss to Rangers at Ibrox just before the winter break.

Ahead of their return on Sunday to the home of the Light Blues, Forest told Football Scotland: "I think what made us play so well when we came back from Dubai was the fact that everyone was still really hurting from that game.

"We left after such a bad result and such a poor performance. And I am sure when it comes to Ibrox the boys will no doubt be thinking about the last time we went there.

"There's no doubt the boys were hurting for a good few weeks and longer from that game. Whoever is in the squad this time – and whoever plays that game – will want to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Celtic are 11/8 to win, 9/4 to draw and 2/1 to lose to Gers on Sunday.

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Lennon happy to deflect title praise

Celtic's interim boss Neil Lennon was happy to deflect any praise from himself after they secured an eighth successive Scottish Premiership crown with a 3-0 win at Aberdeen.

The Hoops had a first-half header from Mikael Lustig to ease any nerves before fellow defender Jozo Simunovic headed home for the second week running eight minutes into the second half.

Odsonne Edouard rounded off the scoring late on, ensuring Celtic now only need to defeat Hearts in this month's Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park to clinch the 'treble treble' of domestic dominance.

Lennon and his players attended the funeral of Billy McNeill, captain of the 1967 European Cup-winning Lisbon Lions team and former manager at Parkhead, on Friday, while his teammate Stevie Chalmers – the match-winner against Inter Milan 52 years ago – has also passed away this week.

In the circumstances, Lennon was keen to dedicate this latest title success to their memories.

"I can't think of two more worthy people to dedicate this title to, if the fans and the club are behind it then so am I," he said afterwards.

"They were the two giants of this club and I can't speak highly enough of my opinion of them, they were the greats and Billy, for me, was what the club is all about."

Lennon came in back in February as interim boss after Brendan Rodgers departed to manage Leicester City.

Stepping into Rodgers' role was the 'toughest piece of management' Lennon has done, he says, and he also paid tribute to his predecessor.

"Credit to Brendan [Rodgers] for the success because of foundation he built and I was lucky enough to build on," he added.

Rangers meanwhile are 2/5 to beat Hibernian at Ibrox on Sunday. Lennon's former club are 15/2 while the draw is 10/3.

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Lennon unsure on next season

Celtic interim manager Neil Lennon is not yet sure whether he will lead the team into next season.

Speaking after his side cruised into the Scottish Cup after beating nine-man Aberdeen 3-0 at Hampden Park, he said he'll keep going but has no idea on his long-term future.

He told the BBC: "There's a lot of speculation about people being interviewed – they don't do that sort of thing, they let me get on with the job and, if and when they decide whoever gets the job, they'll speak to the right person.

"It's been a tough week, the build-up and speculation, but we've come through it very well and I'm delighted more than anything with the level of performance today."

Aberdeen's task at Hampden was made even more challenging on 26 minutes when they were reduced to 10 men, Dominic Ball given a second yellow card after a bad challenge on Ryan Christie.

Celtic then took the lead just before half-time, James Forrest getting away from Max Lowe and firing into the top of the Dons net.

Odsonne Edouard made it two from the penalty spot after Mikey Devlin brought down Jonny Hayes in the area and any chance of an Aberdeen comeback was brought to an end when Lewis Ferguson was dismissed for a challenge on Tom Rogic who scored Celtic's third from the resulting free-kick.

A bad day for the Dons was exemplified by boss Derek McInnes and assistant Tony Docherty also being sent to the stands.

So, Celtic are through to the final where they will meet Hearts back at Hampden Park next month.

By that time they should be on course for another domestic treble. After winning the League Cup under Brendan Rodgers they are 11 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

They could clinch the title next Sunday when they travel to Easter Road to take on Lennon's previous club Hibs. They are 4/9 for a win with Hibs 13/2 and the draw 16/5. Celtic are 11/2 to win the game 1-0.

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McInnes ready for Hoops challenge

Derek McInnes expects both his Aberdeen side and Neil Lennon's Celtic to adopt an 'in your face' attitude for this weekend's Scottish Cup showdown.

The Dons clash with Celtic on Sunday afternoon at Hampden, with McInnes aiming to finally halt the domestic dominance of the Glasgow giants.

Celtic are chasing an unprecedented 'treble treble' after two seasons of perfection under Brendan Rodgers.

Lennon has taken control of matters since his fellow Northern Irishman departed for Leicester City and his aim will be securing another Scottish Cup, with an 11-point league advantage already in place.

Aberdeen lost the 2017 Scottish Cup final against Celtic via a last-gasp Tom Rogic goal, as well as a pair of Scottish League Cup deciders in the last three seasons.

McInnes feels his squad are good enough to end that run, with silverware their ultimate aim.

"It's always the intention at our club to try and at least win one trophy every season," he said.

"We've hit the post a few times and we've put ourselves forward enough times and now we've got an opportunity to try and get the club into another final.

"I always feel in these types of games that it's important to let the opposition know you're in their face. An Aberdeen team should always have that confidence to go and play."

Aberdeen are 5/1 to turn Celtic over, with the Hoops trading at 8/15 to win and the draw priced at 3/1 on Sunday.

McInnes insists Lennon is on a 'hiding to nothing' having taken over at short notice after Rodgers left town. He says Celtic's style of play reflects the dugout change.

"This Celtic team has shown real consistency since the turn of the year. I think you can maybe see little differences, probably more in the personalities of both managers," he added.

"Brendan's team were far more controlled, and deliberate with their work, controlling games and more patient. Neil's team are bit more 'here I am', right in your face and like to show you what they've got. I think that's natural.

"Any team at times can mirror their manager and what they want. There's no huge difference."

Aberdeen are 14/1 to eliminate Celtic after a penalty shoot-out on Sunday.

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Bhoys win ill-tempered clash

Celtic survived a second half fightback, in more ways than one, from Rangers as they sneaked a late 2-1 win at Parkhead to inch close to another Scottish Premiership title.

The Home side bossed the first half and went ahead when Odsonne Edouard took a pass from James Forrest on half-way and danced away before beating Allan McGregor.

The same combination linked up to provide the winner four minutes from the end, Forrest ice-cool with his low finish after a mistake from 'Gers skipper James Tavernier handed Celtic the initiative.

But that barely scratched the surface of what was a tempestuous Old Firm occasion.

Alfredo Morelos earned his fifth red card of the season when he swung an elbow at Scott Brown before half-time. Rangers rallied with ten men and deservedly levelled when Ryan Kent skipped away from the Hoops cover on 63 minutes.

It became ten against ten when Dedryck Boyata went off injured after Neil Lennon had used all his substitutions and Ryan Jack spurned a glorious chance to put Rangers ahead with a quarter of an hour left.

As it was, Forrest was the match-winner and Rangers goalscorer Kent was fortunate not to see red when he appeared to punch Brown before the game restarted.

There were further ugly scenes at the end, Brown this time being involved in an altercation with Andy Halliday as he celebrated Celtic's win.

Lennon paid tribute to French youngster Edouard, Celtic's record signing last summer.

"Rangers' goal made everyone a little anxious. We should have been on the front foot but it was all or nothing for them (Rangers) today," he said.

"At 1-0 the game's always in the balance even against 10 men. We looked a little naive at times but we re-galvanised and scored a great goal to win.

"I thought Odsonne Edouard was the best player on the pitch by a country mile."

For Gerrard there was frustration that his leading goalscorer once again failed to keep a lid on his temper.

"Obviously he's been provoked in the first place but it's happened on too many occasions now and I've gone above and beyond – I've backed Alfredo more than enough and I can't defend him anymore. He'll be punished internally for it and we'll move forward," said the Light Blues boss.

Celtic are 1/6 to win at St Mirren on Wednesday evening, with Rangers 11/20 to bounce back by defeating Hearts at Ibrox.

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Gerrard calls for big effort

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard accepts that his players will have to be mentally strong if they are to have any chance of beating Celtic on Sunday.

Both sides have won 1-0 in their home games in the two derby meetings this season and Celtic are 11/2 to continue that trend by winning Sunday's match 1-0 while a Rangers victory is available at 4/1.

Celtic are currently 10 points above their second-placed Glasgow rivals although both teams have lost four of their 30 league games this season.

Gerrard said: "It's an opportunity for the players to show our own supporters that they are out there playing for them.

"Of course the atmosphere is going to be good and it's all going to be with Celtic, and every cheer, every throw-in, every tackle is going to be on their side.

"But we can't think 'we haven't got many fans here, no-one's cheering us'. The players have got to stick together, pull each other along.

"There's going to be moments when we're under it, but we have to have the mentality and show leadership and communication out there because, once the game has started, it's very difficult to get information on.

"If you go in with a weak mentality and fear this game and fear this atmosphere, you won't get the result that you want."

Moyes open to Scotland job

David Moyes has said that he ideally wants to return to club management but has not ruled out taking the Scotland job.

The current occupant Alex McLeish has been the subject of criticism from fans after their opening games in Euro 2020 qualifying, raising the possibility there could be a vacancy before too long.

Moyes has been out of management since his short-term job with West Ham at the end of last season and says he wants to return, ideally at a club.

However, while not discussing the possibility of taking over from McLeish, Moyes confirmed he has ideas of his own on how to improve Scotland's fortunes.

He told the BBC: "There are many things we're not doing in Scotland, we've chosen to bring in lots of foreign players, and cheap foreign players, and maybe a lot of the young Scottish players are not getting the opportunities.

"We need to see if we can find a solution to develop more players, but we're not going to do it in two or four years, it's a 10 or 15-year plan."

Moyes has also been linked with the Celtic job following Brendan Rodgers' departure to Leicester but, with Neil Lennon back in temporary charge, Moyes expects him to be given the job on a permanent basis.

Speculation over McLeish's future as Scotland boss has been heightened by their start to Euro 2020 qualifying. They lost 3-0 away to Kazakhstan in their opening game and his team were booed off the field after an unconvincing 2-0 win away at San Marino.

Scotland are 33/1 to qualify for Euro 2020 as Group I winners with Belgium 1/10.

England are 5/1 to win Euro 2020 with France 10/3 and Germany 7/1.

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Rodgers encouraged by start

Brendan Rodgers said he has loved every minute at Leicester so far despite falling to defeat at Watford in his first game in charge.

Appointed last week to replace Claude Puel, the former Liverpool and Celtic boss saw his side lose 2-1 at Vicarage Road.

He looked set to begin his time in charge of the Foxes with a draw, Jamie Vardy levelling after Troy Deeney had given the Hornets an early lead.

However, in injury-time at the end of the game, Kasper Schmeichel's poor clearance saw Deeney find substitute Andre Gray who finished well to give the home side the points.

Rodgers said, despite the result, he was encouraged by what he had seen from his new side.

He told the BBC: "We started to get into really good areas and the goal at the end is a case of managing the game. It is something that will get better as we work together. I was pleased with the spirit of the team.

"Performance-wise it was something new for the players and they worked very, very well. It will take time to impose a lot of the ideas we want. There were a lot of good signs. I was pleased despite not getting the result."

The new Foxes boss added that he had seen signs of the spirit and intensity he had asked for and there was plenty to work on over the rest of the season.

The result keeps Leicester in mid-table with 35 points. Watford, with the victory, are on 43 points and moved level with Wolves who sit seventh.

Rodgers' first home game in charge of Leicester comes next weekend when strugglers Fulham are the visitors to the King Power Stadium.

Leicester are 8/13 to win the game with Fulham 9/2 and the draw 14/5.

The Foxes are 7/1 to win the game 1-0.

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