Football/Soccer

Celtic sign Ipswich youngster Kundai Benyu; Jonny Hayes loves life as a Bhoy

Celtic's Patrick Roberts (left) and Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes battle for the ball during the William Hill Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park, Glasgow on Saturday May 27 2017

Celtic have completed the signing of 19-year-old midfielder Kundai Benyu from Ipswich.

The teenager has agreed a four-year contract and will meet up with his team-mates on their Austrian training camp when he officially joins the club on July 1.

Benyu never played for Ipswich but scored five goals in 23 appearances on loan at Vanarama National League side Aldershot in the second half of last season.

Described as a "box-to-box midfielder" by Celtic, Benyu was linked with the likes of Tottenham, West Ham and Aston Villa and his new club say he was "much sought-after by some of England's top clubs".

In a statement on Celtic's website, Benyu said: "I'm absolutely delighted to be joining Celtic. It's a massive honour to sign for the Scottish champions and one of the world's truly great clubs.

"It's also a great opportunity for me to continue to develop as a footballer under Brendan Rodgers.

"I'm looking forward to meeting up with my new Celtic team-mates. I know there's a lot of hard work ahead of me but I am ready for this, I'm looking forward to the challenge and I can't wait to get started."

Benyu was named on the bench several times for Ipswich in the 2014-15 campaign but he was hit by a knee injury the following season and also temporarily fell out of favour with Mick McCarthy, admitting himself he "had an attitude problem which put the gaffer off using me".

Celtic will have to pay compensation to Ipswich after the player rejected a contract offer from the Sky Bet Championship club.

Meanwhile Jonny Hayes admitted he loved his first taste of action for Celtic despite the low-key surroundings.

The Republic of Ireland winger played in the green and white hoops for the first time in a 1-0 friendly win over Austrian side BW Linz at a 2,000-capacity stadium in Rohrbach on Wednesday night.

But Hayes is still excited at every new experience following his recent move from Aberdeen.

The winger told Celtic TV: "The main thing is to get a bit of fitness at this stage but I loved it. Even getting changed and putting the strip on, I loved it and enjoyed every minute of it.

"I knew I was only playing 45 minutes but I didn't want that half-time whistle to come. I just wanted to keep going.

"The lads have been first-class. Right from the minute I came in, everybody's been brilliant with me."

Celtic face Rapid Vienna on Saturday as they warm up for their opening Champions League qualifier, which will take place in mid-July.

Linfield took a small step towards setting up a meeting with the Scottish champions when they beat San Marino's La Fiorita 1-0 thanks to a late goal at Windsor Park on Wednesday.

Hayes said: "The competitive action is going to be in a couple of weeks, but we've got some games in between that and I'm just looking forward to the weekend. Hopefully I'll get another run-out and get a chance to put on the kit again, and go from there."

Football/Soccer

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