CELTIC’S move to make Riley McGree their fifth signing of the January transfer window has hit a hitch.

It looked as though the £3million deal for the 23-year-old Australian midfielder was a mere formality, but Middlesbrough have appeared on the secene to make an eleventh-hour hi-jack attempt for the playmaker who impressed while on loan at Championship rivals Birmingham City.

They have topped the Hoops offer by £2million and are willing to agree wages of around the £14,000-per-week for the player who is currently at MLS outfit Charlotte FC, according to a report in the Daily Mail.

TARGETMAN…Riley McGree remains on the Celtic wanted list.

Ange Postecoglou was eager to get McGree’s switch done this week and the agreement on personal terms was all that was needed to get the transfer over the line.

However, Bodo boss Chris Wilder has now lined up a dramatic swoop for McGree. The Riverside club are chasing promotion to the Premier League and are currently in seventh place, 10 points adrift of pacesetters Bournemouth with a crucial second half of the campaign to be played.

The seven times-capped midfielder saw his loan contract at St Andrews expire at the end of last month and the Midlands side had hoped to extend his terms after his three goals in 30 appearances had made him a favourite with the fans.

WAITING GAME…Ange Postecoglou with Joe Hart at Lennoxtown as he prepares for the second half of the season. Image courtesy Celtic TV.

McGree rejected the opportunity to stay at Ian Bowyer’s outfit and it appeared odds-on his next stop would be Parkhead where he would team up again with the manager who brought him into the Aussie international fold.

Boro, though, have appeared on the scene, as CQN warned at the weekend, and are hoping their £5million offer, which will include add-ons, plus enhanced personal terms will be enough to lure the attack-minded performer in their direction.

Postecoglou has already secured Japanese trio Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi as well as teenage Irish striker Johnny Kenny from Sligo Rovers since the window opened on Hogmanay.

It is believed the Greek-Australian gaffer is not keen to get involved in a transfer tug-of-war for McGree, but is still hopeful the player, who was first linked with Celtic five years ago, will be added to his new-look squad.

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