MATT O’RILEY is poised to take centre stage in next month’s Euro 24 Finals when transfer speculation is bound to be ramped up.

The 23-year-old stylish midfielder is heading for the soccer extravaganza after a memorable season at double-winning Celtic.

O’Riley, who swept up the club’s Player of the Year awards, also shared the distinction of being the champions’ joint top scorer along with Kyogo Furuhashi as both completed the campaign with 19 goals each.

It’s been a convincing term for the gifted playmaker who cost the Hoops a bargain £1.5million when he joined from English third-tier MK Dons in January 2022 and hit the ground running in his new surroundings.

THE FINAL SAY…Matt O’Riley celebrates Celtic’s Scottish Cup triumph with John Lundstram failing to share his opponent’s delight.

There has been widespread acknowledgement of O’Riley’s contribution to the cause and, naturally, that has led to stories emerging from a variety of sources of which team is poised to bid something in the region of £25million/£30million for an outstanding performer.

Everyone seems impressed – with the curious exception of Danish international boss Kasper Hjulmand who has until a week tomorrow to name his travelling squad for the soccer showpiece in Germany.

It appears the supremo of the London-born player’s adopted country does not rate the level of the Premiership too highly and, in fact, thinks the Danish top flight is a superior product.

Quizzed about O’Riley shining at club level, Hjulmand, speaking to the local media, responded: “You have to put it into the context of how the Scottish league is in relation to the Superliga, the Bundesliga or Spain.

“We are fully aware of that. There are constant considerations.”

HAMPDEN HOORAYS…Matt O’Riley and Daizen Maeda celebrate Celtic’s Scottish Cup Final success.

The head coach is welcome to his opinions, of course, but if he had done his homework he would have an idea of how O’Riley had fared against Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Feyenoord in the Champions League in the season just ended.

The smooth operator played in all six games, assisted in three goals and had a passing accuracy of 80 per cent, not bad going in the engine room against such high quality opponents.

The Spanish cracks were so stirred by the performances of the Celt over the two legs they were prepared to pay £20million for his services in the summer after an initial short-term loan switch in January. The Hoops hierarchy, obviously, weren’t tempted.

Hjulmand might have formed a clearer picture of the midfielder’s qualities if he had popped into see for himself or even caught up with the action on tapes.

While he dithers over his final 26-man squad, O’Riley is preparing to wow a new audience in the Euros with Denmark scheduled to play Slovenia on June 16, England four days later with the final Group H outing against Serbia on June 25.

If, of course, his reluctant manager unleashes his undoubted talents on Europe’s elite.


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