BRENDAN Rodgers last night revealed he hasn’t given up hope of keeping Dedryck Boyata at Celtic beyond the summer even though the centre half is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with another club from next month.

Belgian defender Boyata was once again outstanding for Rodgers’s side in their narrow Betfred Cup final victory over Aberdeen at Hampden on Sunday afternoon.

The 28-year-old had his head stitched up following a collision with rival winger Gary Mackay-Steven in the first-half and played on until a hamstring strain forced him to come off early in the second.

The player was booed by Celtic supporters back in August after declaring himself unfit to take part in a crucial Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens – when his manager insisted he could – amid interest from Fulham.

The Scottish champions lost the match in Greece 2-1 to miss out on a lucrative place in the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition for the third season running.

However, since then the man who played three games for his country at the Russia 2018 finals has won round the fans with some exceptional performances domestically and in continental competition.

Rodgers, who has helped turn a player who had become figure of fun in Scottish football into a regular starter for Belgium, has no concerns about Boyata’s commitment to the Celtic cause despite the uncertainty over his future.

“I was very proud of Dedryck,” he said of his heroic display against Aberdeen. “It was a tough summer for him in every way. But it is really satisfying to see how he has got over that and how he has performed. Since he had that little episode he has been absolutely brilliant for us.

“That partnership with (Filip) Benkovic has been very good. He gives everything to the cause. He is super professional. He has played a lot of games now for the No.1 ranked team in world football, Belgium. That really shows where he has come from to where he is at. It is a big credit to him.”

Rodgers added: “He is in the last year, but I am quite relaxed on it. He probably has to look at every option possible. He has created a market for himself now because of how he has performed which is great for him. Careers are short.

“There has been no lack of commitment from him since the summer as you have seen. But as a professional player he has every right to wait and see what happens. I can assure everyone that doesn’t take away his commitment to what we’re doing. The next contract will probably be the last big one of his career and he just has to make sure it’s the right one.”

Rodgers accepts Boyata, who was signed for £1.5 million from Manchester City back in 2015 by his predecessor Ronny Deila, will attract the interest of clubs from bigger leagues across Europe and acknowledges he can increase his salary by moving elsewhere.

However, the Northern Irishman, who picked up the seventh consecutive trophy of his two-and-a-half year reign as Celtic manager on Sunday, is still holding out hope of the player remaining in Glasgow.

Asked if Boyata could stay at Celtic after his contract expires in the summer, Rodgers said: “Maybe. I think he is just weighing it up. He is 28, is in the last year of his contract, he has to have a look at his situation. We know that at some point we lose some of these players. But at the minute we know where it’s at. Like I say, I am relaxed with it.”