CELTIC had to fend off interest from FOURTEEN clubs to land MK Dons midfielder Matt O’Riley.

The 21-year-old former England youth international had attracted the attention of a host of admirers, including Liverpool.

O’Riley, who joined the League One club from Fulham in January last year, became one of the hottest prospects across the border when he started all 26 league games for his club while scoring seven goals from his central midfield position.

The Anfield outfit were alerted to the fact there was a £1.5million release clause in the player’s contract and top-flight rivals Newcastle United, managed by former Hoops target Eddie Howe, and Burnley were also monioring the position.

HOOPY DAZE…new Bhoy Matt O’Riley proudly holds his new No.33 Celtic shirt.

Championship clubs West Brom, Huddersfield, Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City had O’Riley on their January shopping list while there was interest from Anderlecht and Antwerp in Belgium, Bordeaux in France, PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands and the Serie A trio of Venezia, Torino and Sassuolo.

However, Celtic got their man on a four-and-a-half year contract to complete their fifth signing on this transfer window, joining J-League threesome Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi and Sligo Rovers’ teen striker ace Johnny Kenny.

O’Riley, who will not be available to face Alloa in the Scottish Cup opener tonight as he awaits clearance, had been on Postecoglou’s radar since the summer.

The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “He’s a talented player and I had a good chat to the lad, so he will fit in really well.

TUNNEL VISION…Matt O’Riley emerges to survey Celtic’s field of dreams.

“From my perspective, once I knew it could be done then I was really keen.

“Michael Nicolson and the club concluded it in a couple of days, so, although it felt like it came out of the blue, it was one that was in the pipeline for a while.

“Matt can play in different midfield positions and I like that area to be very fluid for us.

“I want players who can move about and Matt fits that perfectly.

“He can play in the deeper-lying role as he has a great passing range, but he also has a goal threat and can play further up.”

Postecoglou, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Matt is only 21. He has really good attributes and will fit into the way we play.

ROARING SUCCESS…Ange Postecoglou offers some touchline encouragement.

“That can help us in different areas and he will be able to play in a couple of roles for us.

“I don’t just sign players, I sign people. That is important and I had a great conversation with him.

“He is a very mature young man and credit to his parents for his upbringing.

“He knows what he wants to do and what his priorities are right now.

“Matt has a burning desire to reach the very top and that’s great. Those are the types we want at the club.”

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Alloa v Celtic this evening – only in your champion CQN.  


Click Here for Comments >

About Author