Report: Celtic face competition from Sunderland for Ali McCann

By Euan Davidson

July 6, 2021

Sunderland have joined the hunt for Celtic target, St Johnstone’s Ali McCann.

According to the Courier, the Black Cats hold interest in the Northern Ireland international. They join the likes of Hull City and Stoke City. Celtic have sent scouts to watch the prodigious talent multiple times this season.

The report says that St Johnstone are under no pressure to sell their star man. Valued at £2m by chairman Steve Brown [Courier], Callum Davidson’s side will require hefty compensation for the 21-year-old.

This marks a pretty sudden rise for the young midfielder. A Hutchison Vale product, much like Leigh Griffiths and Gary Caldwell, McCann was loaned out to Stranraer for the second half of 19-20. Obviously, that season came to a rather quick end. Instead of another loan out of Perth though, McCann knuckled down and established himself in the Saints first-team. He now has an impressive 6 caps for Northern Ireland [Transfermarkt].

Last season alone, McCann was a metronomic, consistent force in the Saints midfield. In total, he played 43 games, largely as a central midfielder. He averaged nearly a key pass a game, was successful with 75% of his passes, and made nearly 3 tackles per 90 [WhoScored]. Those are the stats of a very decent ball-winning midfielder, who also loves to quickly start attacks after winning the ball back.

Part of a double-winning side under Callum Davidson, whatever he was doing worked. It’s no wonder there’s interest. Whether that matters, though, is another thing. The Northern Ireland international has spoken about his excitement for 21-22 [Daily Record]:

“The lads are all buzzing to be back in, it’s good to see everyone and get back into the swing of it.

“I’ll carry on what I’ve been doing. Hopefully I can make my game a bit better, add wee things here and there.

“Hopefully we can carry on where we left off. I know it will be a big ask to replicate last season or even better it.”

Should Celtic beat Sunderland, Hull and Stoke to Ali McCann?

It may well be the case that an established English side would hold more allure for Ali McCann. The examples of Andy Roberston at Hull and Billy Gilmour at Chelsea add to an already long list of successful moves for Scotland-based talent.

St Johnstone midfielder Ali McCann in action against Celtic / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

There’s also a question about suitability for Celtic; would McCann jump into the first team, even now? It’s hard to guarantee that he would, being entirely honest. While he’d see minutes under Ange Postecoglou, it probably wouldn’t be with the consistency he had in 20-21.

It’s an interesting case again, because there’s a strong feeling from watching McCann that he will be an absolute star. Celtic have the resources to get him, or indeed, not lose out on him.

Signings will be coming in, make no mistake. And, given the amount of talent on show in the Scottish Premiership, we’d be daft not to look around. Ali McCann is a very efficient, tidy player, with plenty of potential to be a star for club and country. But will Celtic have the right offer for him?

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