3 EFL talents that could be of interest to Celtic after O'Riley success

By Euan Davidson

March 9, 2022

It might be early days, but there’s enough to suggest that signing Matt O’Riley from EFL side MK Dons was a good idea.

The former Fulham midfielder has been something of a revelation for Scottish audiences. A more known quantity down south, his inspired form in Milton Keynes inspired Ange Postecoglou to snap up the potential Denmark international in January.

Previously, we might’ve seen England as an expensive place to shop. Transfer fees even in the Championship tend to dwarf what’s happening in the Scottish top-flight. Whether the quality is represented by the fees is another argument altogether.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

That said, £1.5m for O’Riley is likely to end up a bargain in the long-term. It seems that way just now, that’s for sure.

With that in mind, what else is going on in the EFL, and is there value to be had across the English Football League system?

Here are three talents we picked out that could benefit Celtic in some way.

Taking Celtic to the next level…

Taking Celtic to the next level…
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

If Celtic need goals from the EFL come the summer, Elijah Adebayo seems a good shout

Luton Town have been one of the surprise packages in the EFL Championship this season. Sitting 6th at the time of writing, they’ve been powered by the goals of Elijah Adebayo, and plenty of clubs will have been taking note.

Formerly of the Fulham Youth Academy, just like Moussa Dembele, Patrick Roberts and Matt O’Riley, Adebayo had to move elsewhere to come to prominence. Initially, that “elsewhere” was Walsall, but he’s tearing it up with Luton Town, where he moved last year.

So far, he’s scored 13 goals across all competitions, with 3 assists [Transfermarkt]. Tall, silky on the ball and a threat from set-piece, Adebayo’s skill-set makes him perfect for the rough-and-tumble Championship; and Celtic don’t really have anyone like him up front.

Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

He’s not bad defensively either, given his position. He ranks well for interceptions and tackles, while his 1.2 clearances [WhoScored?] show that his instincts defending set-pieces could come in handy.

Just 24, and with a solid future ahead, he’ll likely command a decent fee. It’s not like we haven’t been in for a prolific Championship striker before, though…

Another wing option for Celtic? Try Theo Corbeanu

Sorry MK Dons fans, it’s just that you’ve got a few good players.

Celtic might have a bit of an issue on the right wing in the summer. Much depends on whether James Forrest can stay fit, whether Karamoko Dembele signs a new deal, and whether Celtic get offered a bid too good to refuse for Liel Abada.

Therefore, it’s Matt O’Riley’s former team-mate, Theo Corbeanu, that we’ve picked out here. Canadian starlet Corbeanu is just 19, but he’s been excellent for MK Dons thus far. Born in Ontario but snapped up by the Wolves Academy programme in 2022, Corbeanu is yet another exciting Canadian youngster.

Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Quick, with excellent vision and ball-carrying, Corbeanu has contributed to 6 goals in total [Transfermarkt], but there’s a lot yet to come from him.

His per 90 stats make for good reading. 1.3 tackles a game compares well with players of his ilk, while his 3 shots, 1.2 dribbles and 1.7 key passes point to an exciting future as a wide playmaker.

Again; he’s just 19. If O’Riley had a word in his ear, a move to Celtic could work out really well.

Ronnie Edwards; a ball-playing EFL centre-back with plenty of potential – Celtic could use him

Can you have too many central defenders?

Probably, yes. Celtic will assuredly have Chris Jullien, Stephen Welsh and Carl Starfelt to choose from in the summer. Bosun Lawal and Dane Murray could graduate to the first-team before long.

Even then though, it’s good to have options, and especially young defenders who can pass the ball a bit. Take Ronnie Edwards of Peterborough United, for example.

Plucked from the Barnet youth set-up in 2020, Edwards has made 32 appearances for the Posh, enough to rank him top 5 for pass completion in the entire EFL Championship [WhoScored?]. Not bad at all.

Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Although slightly on the short side for a centre-back, Edwards makes up for it with timing, reading of the game and ability to distribute crisply.

He’s averaging 1.5 tackles and a more impressive 3+ clearances a game [WhoScored?], with Manchester United amongst those interested in the centre-back [United in Focus].

It might be an expensive one – Barry Fry is hardly the easiest negotiator. But at 18, Edwards has excellent potential.

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