BRENDAN RODGERS is to hold talks about becoming the new Leicester manager after Celtic ‘very reluctantly’ granted him permission.
The 46-year-old Northern Irishman looks set to quit Parkhead after two-and-a-half years in charge to seal a return to the Premier League.
The Foxes are looking for a successor to Claude Puel, who was sacked on Sunday.
A Celtic statement read: ‘Celtic Football Club today confirmed that it has been approached by Leicester City FC to speak to Brendan Rodgers with regards to their current managerial vacancy.
‘Brendan has indicated to the club that this is an opportunity he wishes to investigate further and therefore, very reluctantly, the club has granted him permission to speak to Leicester City.’
Rodgers has been in charge at Parkhead since 2016 and led Celtic to the title twice, while they are currently eight points clear of second-placed Rangers.
However, it is understood the former Swansea and Liverpool boss has always wanted to return to the Premier League at some stage.
He now has the chance to take over the club which pulled off a stunning title triumph in 2016.
Puel was sacked the day after Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace, with Leicester slipping to 12th in the table.
The Foxes face Brighton this evening, still looking to pick up their first win of 2019, a miserable run which also saw them knocked out of the FA Cup at League Two Newport.
As well as two league titles, Celtic have won three Scottish League Cups and two Scottish Cups under Rodgers.
If appointed he will become Leicester’s third permanent manager since they sacked title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri in February 2017.
Celtic, it seems, are resigned to losing Rodgers, with reports claiming they have already lined up his successor in the shape of Neil Lennon.
Another Northern Irishman, he is out of work since his departure from Hibs last month and could be in line to return to Parkhead five years after leaving the Hoops.
Reports suggest Celtic are to open talks with Lennon, 47, about taking over until the end of the season.
Today’s development hasn’t gone down very well in certain quarters, with former Hoops striker Chris Sutton criticising Rodgers over the timing of his expected departure.
Sutton told BT Sport’s Twitter account: ‘The timing of it stinks. He’s going to a club who are playing for absolutely nothing — they are not going to get relegated, they are not going to get into Europe — and I am really disappointed.
‘I think there are a lot of Celtic fans out there as well who will feel let down. This is the job which Brendan said was his dream job. So why is he going now to a club who have nothing to play for?
‘It looks like Neil Lennon will get the opportunity and I wish him well.
‘In terms of how Brendan has left, he has left the club in a tough situation — short-term loans, losing the centre-back pairing [Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic] and the right-back [Mikael Lustig] in the summer. There’s a big overhaul in the summer which needs doing.’