Update on Mikey Johnston's Portuguese spell with winger destined for Celtic return

By John McGinley

February 7, 2023

Celtic winger Mikey Johnston has won admirers in Portugal since joining Vitoria de Guimaraes on a season-long loan and established himself as a key figure in head coach Moreno’s squad.

He’s been getting regular minutes for Vitoria in the Portuguese top-flight and has now made 18 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring three times and setting up another trio of goals.

Late last year, club officials confirmed that they could not afford to keep him once his loan expires, with no option-to-buy included in the initial deal.

Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images

However, vice president Nuno Leite did rave about him, telling O Jogo that Johnston exemplified “a different culture that should be underlined and praised” as a “great player and an extraordinary professional”.

Despite finding himself on the fringes of Ange Postecoglou’s squad last season, his move to Portugal was very much seen by Celtic as a development loan with the player even extending his contract before he left.

He is destined to return to the Bhoys first-team squad come the end of the season and get another opportunity to impress his manager.

The winger’s contract now doesn’t expire until the end of the 2025/26 season, meaning he has a lot of time to get things right at Celtic.

Most encouragingly, the 23-year-old hasn’t been plagued by the injury problems that have hampered his emergence at Celtic. He’s been available for selection week-to-week and if he isn’t starting matches, he’s been available from the bench.

Considering some of the spells he’s endured in Scotland, that is progress in and of itself.

Vitoria SC currently sit sixth in the Portuguese top-flight, with Johnston aiming to help them make a push for a European slot before the end of the season.

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