Report: Celtic closing in on EFL talent; imminent deal expected

By Euan Davidson

January 19, 2022

Celtic are “closing in” on a fifth January signing, Matt O’Riley from MK Dons, according to a report in The Athletic.

The report says that Celtic will splash out £1.5m on O’Riley, who has been in Milton Keynes since departing Fulham in 2020. The former England youth international joined the Fulham Academy at 8, and is also eligible for both Denmark and Norway. Thus far in 21-22, O’Riley has scored 7 and set up 6 in 30 outings for MK Dons, and a deal is expected within the next couple of days.

According to the Athletic, Fulham will see a sizeable chunk of the fee head their way. Perhaps as much as half of the fee could be on its way to West London, should O’Riley ink a deal with Celtic.

Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

It’d be the fifth signing of the window, after Reo Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda and Johnny Kenny joined Celtic this month. O’Riley, a midfielder, can play anywhere across the middle, and it looks as if Ange Postecoglou is keen on further bolstering his midfield options.

Previously, Ange Postecoglou had said that he was done with incoming transfer business this window. He said last week [Scottish Daily Mail 14/01 print edition, page 93]: “I don’t expect us to do any more business in this window — unless something happens within the current squad that means we need to supplement, or something extraordinary comes along.”

He then described any links to players as “lies”. However, his attention has reportedly moved to a promising League One talent who, at just 21, has considerable potential.

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Has Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou had us on, with Hoops “closing in” on Matt O’Riley?

It’s possible Ange Postecoglou has made us all look daft, here!

The Celtic manager sounded emphatic about his transfer dealings. However, according to the Athletic, this move is close to being finalised.

O’Riley has been a stand-out performer in League One. What he offers both defensively and going forward will surely be of real interest to Postecoglou, as he looks for extra options. O’Riley’s tackling is prolific, averaging 2 successful tackles per 90 in league action [WhoScored?].

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

He’s not afraid of creating chances either. He’s averaging 1.5 shots on goal a game, while his 2.1 key passes indicate a real vision. In terms of another box-to-box style midfielder, O’Riley would certainly tick some… well, boxes.

With Hatate and Ideguchi already joining the Celtic midfield, it’d be fascinating to see if this one goes through. What it might mean for the likes of Ismaila Soro and James McCarthy is anyone’s guess. But if Ange has seen something “exceptional” about O’Riley, then fair enough.

We thought Ange was done for this window. It appears now that it’s not the case after all.

He had us going, at least!

Read more: Celtic boss Ange will be champing at the bit after vulnerable rivals show their flaws