FORMER Celtic defender Jeremie Frimpong has opened up on his decision to leave Parkhead to join Bayer Leverkusen last month - insisting that he was enticed by the German club's offer, rather than actively seeking a move away from Scotland.

The 20-year-old full-back sealed an £11.5million move to the Bundesliga giants a few days before the January transfer window closed, putting pen to paper on a four-and-a-half year contract 18 months after arriving from Manchester City.

Speaking to the Athletic, Frimpong revealed that it was the chance to play in one of the world's greatest leagues that convinced him to depart for Germany - with the opportunity to feature against some of Europe's greatest players proving too great to resist.

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When asked why he left Celtic, Frimpong replied: "It was the right time to leave Celtic because it was about a big club like Leverkusen coming, rather than about Celtic.

“And obviously the Bundesliga was really attractive. So when they came, I was like ‘I could play in the Bundesliga!’, and that was it really.

“I was watching Bundesliga anyway, and Bayer Leverkusen were playing a lot.

“For me, I’ve always wanted to play in the top leagues, and I consider the Bundesliga to be top three in the world. I wanted to take this challenge to see if I can handle it.”

Frimpong added that he immediately got on with his team-mates at Parkhead after joining the club in 2019 and that he will always be grateful to his old manager, Neil Lennon, for handing him a beginning in the senior game.

He said: “Neil Lennon — sorry, the gaffer! — was the first manager to give me my start, so I’ll always respect him for that.

“I think I was close to everyone. First day I clicked with everyone straight away.

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“The captain Scott Brown gave me a lot of information, taught me about the game, the club. Callum [McGregor] was good as well, so was Boli [Bolingoli]. Jonny Hayes as well. They taught me how I should use my ability and adapting to the country.”

Frimpong leaves Celtic with the club's dream of 10 In A Row in tatters and with the club having faced a barrage of criticism for their winter training camp in Dubai last month.

The young defender says he enjoyed the trip to the UAE and found it beneficial, but admitted that he had to block out the noise from the angry reaction it prompted after 13 first-team players and three members of the coaching staff had to self-isolate upon their return to Glasgow.

"The training camp was really good, intense," Frimpong said.

"The sun was really nice, the hotel food was so nice as well. But I was just focused on training.

"For me and the Celtic guys it was a good training camp, we worked hard, and I was just focused on the football.

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"Obviously, when we came back there were a lot of things said, and I realise why people were upset, but you just have to focus on you.

"Everyone was like me, everyone was focused on the team.

"I was the youngest there, and everyone was more experienced than me, so they were all like that."