NEIL LENNON has slapped a £25m price tag on the head of Victor Wanyama – and warned the player's agent that Celtic won't be harassed into selling the player before they're ready.
Rob Moore, the players' representative, revealed yesterday that Wanyama would be knocking back an improved offer from the Parkhead club, claiming that the deal had fallen short of his expectations.
While Lennon thinks that Wanyama is ultimately capable of playing at the very top level, he believes the midfielder is settled at Celtic, but his agent is agitating for a move.
But he has insisted that the club will not be forced to sell.
"I've just said he is worth £25m so they can start the bidding at that," he said.
"I am annoyed with his agent for a number of reasons. One, I was with his agent on Monday night and he never said he was turning down the contract. Two, if Victor has turned down the contract it looks more like it is his agent that has decided to turn it down.
"Three, he is tied to the club until 2015 so we don't have to offer him a contract and the fact we have done so is a goodwill gesture from us and a reward for his performances.
"And, four, negotiations may be ongoing, but they will remain private so long as his agent keeps things out of the public domain.
"We don't have to sell, unless we want him to go and unless we accept an offer we think matches our valuation. But there are no offers. It may be that in time an offer does come in.
"We will digest it, but it is not an issue for me or the club. I think the agent is trying to make a big thing. He seems to talk a lot out of school. He is trying to get the player's name out in the public domain.
"A month ago Victor said he was very happy here and I see that every day in his performances. It has nothing to do with Victor, it is his representatives who seem to be stirring the pot."
Wanyama will ultimately move on from Celtic, but Lennon won't have his hand forced before he is ready.
And while he wouldn't stand in Wanyama's way of a move to the Premiership or elsewhere, he doesn't feel any pressure to bow to the pressure from Moore.
"I think he can play in any company," said the Celtic manager. "He is very consistent and you have to look at how he could develop as well.
"We recognised what a good player he was and we felt we could develop him. He has adapted brilliantly to the British game because he is a top player.
"Eventually, progress is progress and if a huge club came in for him I doubt there is anyone here who would stand in his way and stop the boy fulfilling what he wants to do.
"But for the time being he is our player and we're protecting him. We want him here until we feel it is time for him to go and we get an offer we feel befits his talents."