If a report from The Athletic is believed to be true, Celtic are not done yet in the transfer market as they are set to rope in MK Dons midfielder Matt O’Riley. The young sensation is in blistering form and has also drawn the attention of an array of English Championship outfits including Swansea City and Blackburn Rovers.
The Hoops are closing in on a £1.5m move for the 21-year-old Englishman who has fired in 7 goals and laid on 5 more in 26 League One appearances so far this term [stats via Transfermarket]. Predominantly a central midfielder, O’Riley has shown his expertise as a ‘number 10’ as well as a deep-lying playmaker and the Hoops, therefore, are keen on adding the youngster to their ranks even though Ange Postecoglou dismissed further speculations.
The former Three Lions youth international progressed through the youth ranks of Fulham and went on to make 11 senior appearances before leaving on a Bosman. He trained with MK Dons for around six months before penning a contract last year. So far he has featured more than 50 times for the Buckinghamshire side but is expected to take the next career step later this month.
Why Celtic Should Secure His Services In This Window
Celtic, meanwhile, have already bolstered themselves in the centre of the pitch by securing the services of Japanese pair Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi. Both of them made their debut against Hibernian and Hatate, in particular, stole the limelight with a stellar show at the Paradise. O’Riley would find it hard to break into the first team immediately, but the ceiling is quite high for the Dons prodigy.
The Hoops have been after Riley McGree for a while who, however, has turned them down in favour of Middlesbrough. The rumours of Ahmed Kendouci have not gathered much pace either and the ex-Cottager might be the alternative to the above targets whom they failed to snap up during the winter window.
Apart from Hatate and Ideguchi, the likes of skipper Callum McGregor, David Turnbull, Tom Rogic, Nir Bitton and James McCarthy are there who are ahead of O’Riley in the pecking order. He must work hard to climb up the ladder but his flexibility in the middle of the park would hand him an edge over many going forward.
A good dribbler and passer of the ball, O’Riley loves to carry the game forward from the deep to operate in the advanced areas. His vision, concentration and finishing attributes set him apart from the midfielders in the current Celtic squad. It is to be seen now how quickly he attunes to the aggression of the Scottish game if a transfer eventually takes place in due time.