Liverpool have stepped up interest in Celtic defender Efe Ambrose after the powerful defender helped Nigeria win the Africa Cup of Nations.

Efe Ambrose
Efe Ambrose

The Metro reports the Anfield club had scouts in South Africa and were impressed by Ambrose's performance in the final against Burkina Faso. The 24-year-old could be available for as little as £6m this summer, given he is believed to be keen on a new challenge.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has admitted he is aware of interest in the Nigerian but has denied that there has been a formal approach from Liverpool or any other club. Ambrose joined the Scottish champions for an undisclosed amount in the summer and signed a three-year deal with the club.

"I know a few Ambrose fans. There is nothing concrete, but I am aware of the interest," Lennon explained.

Ambrose has made 28 appearances in all competition for the Hoops this season and has scored three goals. He was praised for his performance in the memorable 2-1 win over Spanish giants Barcelona but did come in for criticism from his teammate Kris Commons after their 3-0 loss to Juventus in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie.

The imposing centre-back admitted that he was flattered to hear about interest from Liverpool and stated that he would one day like to play in the Premier League.

"I am happy to linked with a club like Liverpool," said Ambrose. "My dream is to play across the border."

"The English league is the best but I am happy at Celtic. I love the fans here and we were unlucky against Juventus."

Kuyt on Rodgers

Meanwhile former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt has praised Rodgers and has urged fans to be patient with the former Swansea City boss despite the club being eliminated from the Europa League by Zenit St. Petersburg.

Liverpool did put in a rousing performance to claim a 3-1 victory at Anfield but it was not enough after losing the first leg 2-0 in Russia.

Kuty spent six seasons at Anfield before transferring, last summer, to Turkish club Fenerbahce. The 32-year-old scored 71 goals from 285 appearances.

"Brendan Rodgers was actually quite good to me because he was one of the first people to ring me and wish me all the best with my career. I think he is a very good manager and it is difficult sometimes but I think if they give him the time he can build a good team. They have very good games with some disappointing results. What I can make of it from here is that they are building a team and when you are doing that there can be ups and downs," he told BBC.