Celtic boss Rodgers “delighted” with Portuguese youngster Paulo Bernardo

Benfica loanee Paulo Bernardo appears to have taken some significant steps at Scottish champions Celtic over recent weeks, having joined from the Eagles last summer.

The midfielder has been gradually phased into manager Brendan Rodgers’ plans in Glasgow, but with two goals and two assists in his last three matches – Bernardo has officially arrived at Celtic Park. Speaking this week, Rodgers assessed the surge in form by the 21-year-old.

“Every young player that comes in isn’t going to adapt right away, coming from a new country and a different way of football but Paulo’s really taken his opportunity these last number of weeks,” Rodgers said. “That’s the nice thing when you’ve got young players. They want to learn and they want to develop."

The progress is a marked development from October, when Rodgers admitted Bernardo had struggled with the physical aspect of the SPL during a goalless draw with Hibernian. After that match, the Northern Irishman told the press: “He looked a little bit leggy in the game today. But this intensity is new for him. He has to get through it. He did well in the week coming into such a high-level game. He worked hard and did well today but the plan was always to give him an hour and take it from there.”

A turning point for the Portugal U21 international was getting his first goal for The Hoops on Boxing Day against Dundee United. The strike was followed by a memorable goal in the 2-1 Old Firm Derby win over fierce rivals Rangers four days later, before Bernardo added two assists against St Mirren on Sunday.

“For Paulo it was good,” Rodgers said after the Portuguese’s first goal in Scotland. “He’s such a mature player for a young player. He’s always had a great attitude at training. He’s played in a lot of big games. But he had a wee bit of everything today – he had a wee bit of dig, put his foot in, passed the ball and made runs into the box.”

Many in Glasgow are now suggesting Celtic have found another Portuguese gem, following the success of winger Jota, who had two exceptional years at the club having also joined from Benfica. Now, Rodgers, who has the option to exercise a permanent transfer in the summer, has challenged the youngster to build on his performances.

“It is all patience,” Rodgers said. “Sometimes at big clubs there is no patience with young players.

“You can see him growing and developing. When you have young players that is what tends to happen if their attitude is right, and their mentality is right.

“He has come in in these last few games and created goals and scored goals and he has put his foot in too. He is tenacious.

“Absolutely delighted for him. It is now about consistency.”

 By @SeanGillen9