Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton has urged his old employers not to sell defender Dedryck Boyata unless they have a viable replacement lined up for him.

The Belgium international, who is currently in Russia for the World Cup, has been linked with a Parkhead exit this summer – with Lazio the side most-commonly touted as a potential suitor.

Celtic fans would not be overly concerned if Boyata was to be sold, with the former Manchester City centre-half splitting supporter opinion due to his unpredictability.

The powerful defender has been a virtual ever present when fit and is a favourite of Brendan Rodgers, but the Hoops also have other options at the back such as Jozo Simunovic and Jack Hendry.

Despite Boyata not completely convincing Celtic fans of his importance to the Glasgow club, the Scottish champions could well rely on him as their first European encounter of 2018-19 approaches.

Stuart Armstrong looks likely to leave Celtic this summer, with a deal with Southampton reported on Friday.

Sutton has suggested that Rodgers should be in the market for a new defender if selling the Belgian is a possible option he is considering.

“Dedryck Boyata is in the same boat with his contract but unlike Armstrong they simply cannot afford to sell him,” he wrote in the Daily Record.

“That might surprise a few people as the centre-half has not always been the most dependable.

“But, bottom line, Celtic will need him.

“The Champions League qualifiers are only a few weeks away and if they were to let Boyata go they would be losing an experience defender from a backline that already looks weak going in to Europe.

“There is talk about Lazio looking at him and figures or around £4m have been mentioned. It would be nice money for a player who has never really managed to win everyone over.

“Regardless, unless there’s a centre-back lined up to replace him immediately then it would be far more costly to punt him.”

Celtic have dominated Scottish football in recent years but are expected to add quality to their ranks this summer – a club-record permanent deal for Odsonne Edouard has already been agreed.

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