Paulo Bernardo ready for Champions League test after leaving Benfica for Celtic

Scottish champions Celtic have signed promising Portuguese midfielder Paulo Bernardo from Benfica on a season-long loan deal.

Bernardo, who has represented Portugal at every youth level, spent the second half of last season on-loan with Paços de Ferreira, but now ventures abroad for the first time in his career to play Champions League football at Celtic.

“I’m very excited to be here,” said the 21-year old. “It’s a great club and I’m ready to be on the pitch and to help the team.

“I always grew up with Celtic in the big competitions in the Champions League and most of the time as champions here in Scotland. I have always seen Celtic as a big and a great club.

“The Champions League is a great competition and I’m ready for it.

“Our ambition is to be champions and perform very well in the group stages of the Champions League and go as far as we can.

“The manager explained to me a little bit about Celtic and he asked me if I’m ready to be part of the team. It was really nice and I’m ready.”

Celtic famously had great success in prising Luso forward Jota from Benfica two years ago, since when he has made a big-money move to Saudi Arabian champions Al-Ittihad. Manager Brendan Rodgers said of the deal: “Paulo is a young player with the opportunity to give us more strength in depth in that midfield area.

“He’s already gained first-team experience at a top-class club in Benfica, which is something he will bring to Celtic, and we’re looking forward to working with him over the course of this season.”

Celtic were drawn in Group E of the Champions League along with Atletico Madrid, Feyenoord and Lazio.

By Sean Gillen