AIDEN McGEADY 5-year Hoops deal.

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AIDEN McGEADY is set to be rewarded for his sensational season with a bumper new five-year contract which he is expected to sign within the next few days.

It will the second time since Gordon Strachan arrived to take over as manager that the 22 year-old has been given a major wage increase.

Only 17 months ago the Republic of Ireland international extended his existing contract by four-and-a-half years. That would have taken him through to the summer of 2011. But this latest contract will run until 2013.

It is a major statement of intent by the SPL champions that, despite serious interest from England and beyond, they are determined to retain their best talents.

In January they got Artur Boruc's name on a new contract which extended his existing deal until 2011.

And last month it was the turn of last season's top scorer, Scott McDonald, to be handed a new, five-year deal - just 12 months after he arrived from Motherwell.

Now with McGeady - who scored twice in a 5-1 win against Morton behind closed doors yesterday before going onto collect the club's Player of the Year award - ready to ignore the speculation that clubs including Spurs and Sunderland were preparing £10m-plus bids for him and commit the major part of his career to the Parkhead club, the focus switches back to transfer targets.

The long-running quest to sign Auxerre central defender Gabriel Tamas still has a way to go and the club could meet up with some of the 24-year-old Romanian's represen-tatives in France.

Celtic realised from the outset that this transfer was going to be difficult, but believe it is worth the effort and have been prepared to sit in for the long haul.

Agreeing a fee with Auxerre - expected to be between £3m and £4m - will be relatively simple compared to unravelling the web of agents representing the much-travelled defender.

Celtic are also awaiting news on their bid for Roma full-back Vitorino Gabriel Antunes as newly-promoted Lecce try to land him on loan.

While chief executive Peter Lawwell continues to negotiate, Strachan will head to England tomorrow morning for the testimonial match at Southampton, the first of Celtic's eight pre-season games.

The squad he takes is set to include youngsters Paul Caddis and Cillian Sheridan.

Koki Mizuno will also be in the travelling party which will move on to Saturday's game against Fulham before flying out to Portugal on Sunday.

The Japanese youngster's coutryman. Shunsuke Nakamura, is due to fly back to Glasgow tomorrow after his short summer break, while Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Artur Boruc will head to the Algarve for games against Middlesbrough on Tuesday and Cardiff on Thursday.

They will move on to play Porto a week on Saturday before heading home later that night.
 
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