Andre Pirlo believes that Celtic are back where they belong in the Champions League.
The legendary midfielder has played against the hoops for Juventus and AC Milan and knows all about the magical traditions of the Scottish champions.
Despite losing out on a 5-0 aggregate to the Turnin giants Neil Lennon’s side and it’s supporters made a huge impression on Pirlo.
“I think what Celtic have shown this campaign is that they are not in Europe to make up the numbers,” he stated. “After their performances in Europe, teams won’t want them in their group next season.
“It’s not just their win against Barcelona but their performances against other big European teams like Benfica and Moscow.
“They belong in the Champions League. It is not just the quality of player they have but everything they represent as a club.
“Their history, their fans, the stadium – it’s clubs like this that make the Champions League great.”
Pirlo added: “It’s the toughest club competition in the world and each season you aim to better the last. Progressing from the group stage should now be a minimum from Celtic. Next season they should really be aiming for the quarter-finals.
“If they keep their best players I don’t see why that can’t happen.”
Celtic reached the last 16 of the Champions League despite being in among the fourth seeds at the group stage.
Despite that Lennon’s side picked up 10 points to finish above Spartak Moscow and Benfica collecting a world record of 10 points for a Scottish club.
Next season Celtic face three qualifying rounds if they are to return to the top table of European football.