Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has denied Joey Barton’s claims that they tried to sign him once they knew he was close to completing a move to Rangers.
An extract from Barton’s autobiography, published in the Daily Mail, said that days before the player signed a two-year deal at Ibrox he “took a call from an agent, who had been contacted by Peter Lawwell, Celtic’s chief executive”, adding: “The message he conveyed was straight and to the point. ‘Is there anything we can do together? Can we have a conversation?'”
More recently, Barton told The Guardian: “I was never going to change my mind and let down Rangers. So I wonder how that will play out when people hear about it.”
“I think Joey’s been had by a bit of a matchmaker here,” he said in a statement.
“An agent called me saying that Joey was going to sign for Rangers but he would really prefer to come to Celtic and were we interested in signing him, but it wasn’t something we wanted to pursue.
“These things happen to players sometimes in football, but needless to say we wish Joey well at his new club.”
Barton has been suspended by Rangers for three weeks after a meeting with manager Mark Warburton on Monday following a row with team-mate Andy Halliday and the Gers boss in the wake of their 5-1 defeat to Celtic.