£15m MIKEY?


CELTIC loan flop Oli Burke cost West Brom £15million when they signed him from RB Leipzig in the summer of 2017.

The Scotland international forward was one of Brendan Rodgers’ last transfer moves in his first time-around stint as Hoops manager when the winger arrived on a temporary deal from the Midlands club in January 2019.

The Irishman didn’t hang around to see Burke collect a meagre four goals in 19 appearances for the Parkhead side before being returned to the English outfit by an unimpressed Neil Lennon.

The question that must be asked today is: If the Hawthorns club rated Burke at £15million almost seven years ago, how much would they be prepared to pay for Mikey Johnston at current prices?

ONE DOWN, THREE TO GO…Oliver Burke celebrates his first goal for Celtic in a win over St Mirren at Parkhead. He claimed four in total before being returned to West Brom.

The on-loan Celt is ripping it up in the Championship since arriving in January and has fired in a remarkable six goals in 10 games.

That’s even more extraordinary when you consider the Glasgow-born Republic of Ireland international netted only two goals in four years at the champions, admittedly spending one of those seasons at Portuguese top-flight club Vitoria Guimaraes.

As you would expect, the West Brom fans are urging the club to make the switch permanent in the summer, especially with their favourites currently sitting fifth in the table and pushing for promotion to the lucrative Premier League.

The gifted Bhoy is under contract at the Hoops until June 2026 and the club can play hardball in any transfer negotiations if someone comes knocking on the door.

Rodgers, as ever, won’t show his hand in these situations and, asked what he thought of his player’s impact across the border, answered: “Brilliant. I’ve said before about Mikey’s talent. He has been here a long time.

“Listen, the shirt is a different weight of shirt when you leave here. But Mikey has always shown the talent.

HUSH…big-noise Mikey Johnston celebrates one of his six strikes for West Brom.

“He has had a number of years where he has picked up lots of injuries and he needed to get a run of games. I spoke to him in the summer when he was looking to go on loan.

“I said stay and get your training right because you’ve not had a period of training consistently, never mind playing games. He was able to do that then he featured in some games for us and once he trained and featured it was then about getting him game time.

“He has gone and done fantastic and shown the talent everyone knows he has. Hopefully, he continues with that and then we can look at it again in the summer.”

Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Mikey’s 24 years of age now, he’s not a baby, he is a boy who wants to play. He has lots of talent and you’ve seen that going down into the Championship.

“He’s scored some fantastic goals, but it’s not a surprise. You see him in training and he has that ability.

“It’s all about the consistency and being fit and available. He’s shown that now over this part of the season and, hopefully, continues until the end of the season at West Brom.”

Read into that what you will.

GREEN FOR GO…Nicolas Kuhn is getting into his stride after a false start.

In the summer, Rodgers will have Marco Tilio, with a mere 28 minutes of first-team action at the Hoops following his £2million summer arrival from Melbourne City, back in contention after a loan return to the Aussie outfit.

Yang Hyun-jun will undoubtedly be a better proposition than he has shown in his debut campaign, although there have been flashes of inspiration to offer optimism.

Nicolas Kuhn, a Rodgers-backed £3million recruit from Rapid Vienna in January, will be up and running while Daizen Maeda, Luis Palma and the evergreen James Forrest will also be in contention.

And let’s not forget the qualities of Sead Haksabanovic who was packed off to Stoke City in a hasty loan agreement in August after some ill-advised remarks on social media about not being appreciated in Glasgow.

If West Brom match – or even better – the £15million they splashed on Burke, the champions may just be tempted to part with a player who has struggled under the weight of a Celtic shirt.

Looks like a win-win situation for everyone.


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