Celtic target Ali McCann moves to Preston for bargain price

By Euan Davidson

September 1, 2021

Celtic target Ali McCann has sealed a £1.2m move to Preston North End.

As recently as May, Celtic scouts were watching the Northern Irish international at St Johnstone [Glasgow Live]. An integral part of a team that won a historic domestic double, the Saints midfielder had been reported on multiple times by scout Tosh McKinlay [Belfast Telegraph].

Reports yesterday indicated that the Perth side were to hold on their star man. That was, unless, a bid of £3m or more came in for the midfielder.

However, in one of the bargains of the window, it’s Preston who have picked up McCann for a bargain fee [PNE]. Signing a four-year deal with the Lilywhites, the Northern Irish midfielder sounded excited, but somewhat sad to leave St Johnstone.

He said [PNE]:

“It’s brilliant, it’s been such a long day today. I’m just so buzzing to get it all sorted and get it over the line and I just can’t wait to get back and get in with the lads next week.

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“St Johnstone are a great club. I’ve been there since I was young so it was difficult leaving because they’ve done so much for me when I’ve been growing up, but an opportunity to move down to a club like this is just too much to pass up and I just can’t wait to get started.”

Celtic would surely have taken Ali McCann for £1m?

Unless Ange Postecoglou was determined not to get McCann, it seems unlikely that Celtic would’ve been priced out of this one.

In a summer that saw Scott Brown, Olivier Ntcham and Ryan Christie all depart, another body in midfielder would’ve been particularly useful. Not least one who has a proven record in domestic competition.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

All the talk indicated that unless St Johnstone were truly wowed by a bid, they’d hold onto McCann. That the Saints have sold both of their key men in McCann and Jason Kerr for under £2m [Daily Record] is utterly baffling.

This isn’t just a “Celtic miss out” kind of story, either. It continues a worrying trend in Scottish football as a whole. In July, I wrote that it looked as if ourselves and other SPFL clubs were no longer pushovers in the transfer market.

However, clubs like Preston are able to snare top Scottish Premiership talent for peanuts. So, on the one hand, you can bemoan Celtic not picking him up. But on the other, you have to wonder what the hierarchy at St Johnstone were thinking.

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