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Despite being dreadful in Europe, Celtic deserve plaudits for their swift transition under Ange Postecoglou. They were struggling in summer after losing an array of key personnel, but the newly-appointed Aussie chief made a plethora of quality signings to regain the lost charm at Parkhead. Matt O’Riley is indeed one of them who has been an instant hit following a low-key transfer from MK Dons late in the winter window.
The 21-year-old midfielder represented England in U16s and U18s but has switched his allegiance recently to feature for Denmark U21s. He has earned a regular role for Celtic in the middle of the park ahead of James McCarthy, Yosuke Ideguchi and Nir Bitton. In a recent interview with bold.dk, the youngster has revealed how quickly the manager convinced him to ply his trade at Celtic Park.
“I think I talked to their coach for ten minutes and then I felt ready. He told me all the right things, so a day went by and then it was almost in place.”
Told O’Riley who is aiming for Champions League football by conquering the Premiership crown. The league triumph would ensure a path straight into the group stage and the Bhoys, therefore, must maintain the momentum for the remainder of the campaign. Rangers, the reigning Scottish champions, are only three points behind their bitter rivals and the upcoming Old Firm derby post-international break might prove decisive for both clubs.
Celtic triggered his £1.5m buy-out clause two days before its expiration. The Dons could have demanded more otherwise and the promptness showed by the management has resulted in such a shrewd piece of transfer business for a bargain price.
O’Riley progressed through the youth ranks of Fulham and went on to make 11 senior appearances across competitions. However, he rejected an extension offer and trained with MK Dons for six months as a free agent before penning a contract. Although he played week in week out for the League One outfit, the Celtic move is a massive step forward for the young prodigy.
How Celtic Have Benefitted From His Arrival
While he is featuring as a ‘number 8’ for the Glasgow giants, both the ‘number 6’ and ‘number 10’ roles suit his style proving his versatility in the centre of the pitch. He is energetic, capable of making box-to-box runs and knows how to use his physique to hold the ball under pressure. Also, the defence-splitting through balls exhibits his creative spark from an advanced midfield spot.
Having said that, the injury return of David Turnbull might restrict his minutes going forward. O’Riley has already been rotated with Tom Rogic and Reo Hatate in central midfield and it remains to be seen how he responds to this growing competition in the forthcoming future.