Mark McKenzie isn't the only MLS talent Celtic recently missed out on

By David Walton

January 7, 2021

So there we have it, a big MLS talent has officially slipped through the Celtic grasp in Mark McKenzie.

The powerful USA international today completed a move to Belgian outfit Genk. The deal was announced by his new club, as he leaves the Philadelphia Union an MLS Supporters Shield winner. Not to mention the runner-up for MLS Defender of the Year too.

Celtic had been linked with McKenzie for months stretching back to the summer (Sky Sports). In fact, back in October, it was reported by Sports Illustrated that we had seen an offer for him rejected. It was said to be worth around £2.2m.

McKenzie’s move to Genk is worth a reported £4.4million (Philadelphia Inquirer). So effectively double what Celtic offered. Surprise surprise – another club decided not to insult Philadelphia and got a deal done quickly. That certainly wouldn’t be Celtic.

What’s even more frustrating here is that he sounded right up for a move to Parkhead. Speaking to Sky Sports last month, McKenzie talked up a move to Parkhead. He even referenced Virgil van Dijk’s progression in Glasgow and stated he had been researching about the club and Scottish football.

But McKenzie isn’t the only big MLS breakthrough star we’ve missed out on in recent months.

Ex-MLS talent Alberth Elis was itching for Celtic move; went to Boavista instead

New Boavista man Alberth Elis is another we should’ve seen in green-and-white.

Elis signed for the Portuguese club from Houston Dynamo in the summer. The Honduran international was absolutely superb in Texas too after bagging 56 direct goal contributions in 86 appearances (Transfermarkt). He started the campaign off with four goals in his first six games too.

The Boavista star plays on the right-side. That’s a position Celtic have been crying out for reinforcements in. With James Forrest injured, we’ve had to watch Ryan Christie produce lacklustre displays out of position.

Alberth Elis always asked about a move to Celtic (Photo by Roy Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Elis wasn’t costly either. Nobody from the MLS ever really is. He moved to Boavista for a reported €1m (£901k) plus performance-related add-ons and a future sell-on fee (Transfermarkt).

So why should he have been Celtic’s? Well if you want to ignore his pace and consistent goal contributions, he was begging for a move to Parkhead in the summer. Back in July last year, Elis said in the Daily Record that he always asks former Celtic man Emilio Izaguirre to recommend him to Celtic.

Missing out on him was bad enough. Adding McKenzie to the list is just sheer negligence. Why we keep ignoring the MLS is totally beyond me. There’s some tremendous talent coming out of here and proving themselves in Europe. They can be bagged at a relatively cheap price, yet Celtic still can’t see it.

Don’t bet on Elis and McKenzie being the only blunders we miss out on from the States in the near future.

In other news, an SPFL club chairman has discussed how close the Celtic/Rangers colts plan is to completion.