Middlesbrough's Riley McGree explains why he didn't sign for Celtic back in January

By David Walton

May 3, 2022

Former Celtic target Riley McGree has stated that his ambition of playing EPL football led to him snubbing the opportunity to come to Parkhead.

Back in January, it was reported that McGree had accepted the chance to join Ange Postecoglou at Celtic Park [Daily Record]. It came after a successful loan spell with Birmingham City in England’s second tier.

However, days later he would end up moving to Championship rivals Middlesbrough instead. Currently 2 points off the promotion playoff spots with 1 game remaining, there’s a possibility McGree could end up playing EPL football next season.

Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus

And he’s stated that’s exactly why he didn’t move to Parkhead just several months ago.

Speaking to Optus Sport, the midfielder said: “With all due respect to Celtic and Ange, my ambition is to play in the Premier League.

“I feel like coming here with Middlesbrough, the position they’re in and they were in potential automatic promotion or promotion going through the playoffs, and then being in the UK itself, I feel like it was the best opportunity to get to where I want to be in my end goal and what I want to achieve in my career.”

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Riley McGree could’ve been playing UCL football with Celtic next year

McGree’s logic here makes sense. He didn’t grow up a Celtic supporter and has a strong ambition to be playing Premier League football. We can’t change what players’ end goals are and we can’t dictate where they should be playing their football if they want to be successful.

However, it could be the case that the Australian international has made a big mistake here. Yes, Middlesbrough are in contention for the playoffs this season, but there’s still a lot of work for them to do to actually make it up. They still have to hope results go for them elsewhere this weekend to bag a spot.

Meanwhile, Celtic will be guaranteed UCL football should they wrap up the Premiership title. Ange Postecoglou’s Hoops will be operating at the top table of club football next season. A fair few levels higher than where McGree will likely be plying his trade next term.

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In the end, of course, no party has come out of this truly disappointed. McGree believes he’s made the best decision for his career. Celtic, meanwhile, were able to snap up Matt O’Riley from MK Dons who has helped play a big part in leapfrogging Rangers in 2022.

Celtic are in a fantastic place heading into the summer, with all focus soon moving on to what positions will need strengthening. McGree would undoubtedly have been a valuable asset for Ange given he knows the player well, but the end goal here was winning the league and it looks as though we’re going to do so regardless.

Nobody wishes harm on the Australian for snubbing the Hoops. But you do wonder whether his plan is going to work out exactly as he hopes.

In other news, “Too much Guinness”; Trevor Sinclair reacts to Sunday celebration clip with Celtic supporters