Mark McKenzie to Celtic latest: Belgian title-chasers now serious rivals for £3.6m transfer

By John McGinley

December 28, 2020

Celtic will face competition from Belgian title-chasers Genk for defender Mark McKenzie’s signature this January, newspaper Het Belang van Limburg reports (28/12 print edition, Sport page 8).

The Belgian outlet says that Genk boss John van den Brom has confirmed his central defence is an area the club want to strengthen next month.

The report states that McKenzie is on their radar and would be available for €4m (£3.6m). It’s said Celtic are also keen on his services, alongside English Premier League and Bundesliga clubs.

Celtic interest in the Philadelphia Union star has been well reported for several months now.

Sky Sports reporter Anthony Joseph has been at the forefront of the links.

Earlier this month he secured an exclusive interview with the Major League Soccer prospect. He spoke openly about his desire for a switch to European football, as well as Celtic’s interest in him.

McKenzie told the broadcaster: “Yeah (I’d be open to it), ultimately it’s about the situation being right for all parties. As the player, you are probably the most important piece in the puzzle. But it’s about making sure it’s right for the club I’m at now but also the club I could potentially be going to.

“I’ve done my fair share of research (on Celtic and the Scottish Premiership). I’ve always loved football, so I’ve known about Celtic for a while. You hear about Celtic and the path of Virgil Van Dijk – going from there to the Prem.”

Signing challenge for Celtic

However, a Celtic swoop was never a guarantee. McKenzie has had an excellent year across the Atlantic, and it’s no surprise to hear that multiple clubs from different countries are keen on him.

He was named in the MLS team of the year and made the shortlist for the league’s defender of the year award.

Celtic transfer target Mark McKenzie / (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Like Celtic, Genk can offer the 21-year-old a chance to win trophies and a route to group stage football in European competitions.

If the Bhoys are to bring McKenzie to Glasgow, they’ll have to move sharply and decisively.

The usual prolonged negotiating tactics of Peter Lawwell and company will not pay off with this particular transfer.

I’d love to see McKenzie at Celtic and, hopefully, the club can fight off the competition.

In other news, James McFadden has labelled one Celtic youngster as ‘absolutely magnificent’.