Report: Celtic close to securing deal for Canada World Cup star Alistair Johnston

By Dave Flanigan

November 24, 2022

A report has claimed that Celtic are close to securing the signing of Montreal right-back Alistair Johnston.

Johnston played the full ninety of Canada’s World Cup Group F opener defeat to Belgium last night, with The Sun initially reporting yesterday that Celtic were running the rule over the 24-year-old.

Thee defender, who played right centre-half in a back three against Belgium, made 33 appearances for Montreal Impact in the 2022 MLS season, scoring four goals and making four assists.

Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

Since that initial report, Manuel Veth of Transfermarkt has claimed that Celtic are in advanced talks for the versatile defender, who holds dual Irish-Canadian citizenship as well as a UK passport.

Johnston has become a staple for his national side in the last two years, and was ever-present in Canada’s second round of World Cup qualification fixtures, also scoring his first and only international goal against the Cayman Islands in March 2021.

Should the deal be completed, he’ll become Celtic’s second defensive reinforcement of the January window already, following the confirmed signing of Yuki Kobayashi from Vissel Kobe yesterday, with the 22-year-old becoming the 5th Japanese player to sign for Celtic under Ange Postecoglou.

Celtic showing their intent by doubling down from a position of strength

Though, of course, nothing is set in stone until both clubs confirm the deal, the links with Johnston suggest that some movement in the right-back position could be forthcoming, given that there were steady reports in the summer linking Josip Juranovic with a move to one of Europe’s top five leagues.

However, Celtic’s negotiating position looks to be pretty strong given the Croatian international’s contract length – he still has three-and-a-half years left on his current deal, and his performances at the World Cup could well bolster his value, should the full-back be up for sale in January.

With Anthony Ralston in situ to deputise, in any case, and the signing of Yuki Kobayashi providing similar competition in the centre of defence, it’s a welcome approach from the club who prior to Postecoglou’s arrival, often did major work late in windows.

Celtic look to be going about their business efficiently, but also smartly, signing reinforcements rather than replacements, as they look to solidify their title charge and, by extension, their Champions League campaign for next season.

In other news: Former Celtic midfielder makes football return after short free-agent spell