Manchester United are looking to bolster their midfield with reports linking them to the transfer of Celtic Under-21 midfielder Matt O’Reilly.
Denmark ?! That’s right, the Danes have stolen the career of the former England youth national team player, who qualifies through his mother.
A Fulham Youth Academy graduate, O’Riley joined Celtic from MK Dons for just £1.5m/€1.8m in January, but his impact has been so rapid at Parkhead that the Scottish champions can already benefit from more than 10 times that fee. Already.
O’Reilly scored three goals and assisted two more in just 12 games in the second half of last season, as Celtic retracted the Scottish Premier League title from Rangers, and he already has three assists in just five games this season.
United may have added Casemiro and Christian Eriksen to the ranks of the midfield that already edges Bruno Fernandes this summer, but O’Reilly could offer some welcome competition, and he has the best of his career.
⚽️ @Mattoriley8 He gets the goal his game deserves.
Greg Taylor crosses to the back post and O’Reilly controls well before passing it to the bottom left corner.pic.twitter.com/EZDikFsGpj
Celtic Football Club (CelticFC) May 7, 2022
What position does O’Riley play in?
O’Riley is a 6’2″ midfielder who can play centrally when needed but prefers to line up on either side of the midfield axis, leaving defensive dirty work to teammates like Casemiro.
Primarily left-footed O’Riley is more than capable of handling his right, which makes it difficult for opposing defenders to show him on his weaker side.
Participation in O’Riley’s goal is improving, but he is more likely to be found making the pass before the pass. United will sign him with Eriksen’s age in mind.
How good is O’Riley?
Good enough to generate an international tug of war for his services. In the same generation as Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden, O’Riley was a teammate in England with these two going on to star in either side of the Manchester break.
After five games with the Young Lions, Denmark approached him in March, two months after his move to Celtic, and he has now played with them four times. Moving to Old Trafford may pierce the ears of Gareth Southgate, and indeed Norway for which he is eligible too.
O’Riley isn’t the fastest sprinter, but he does have extra yard in his head, with his quick and decisive hand taking out several opponents at once.
Paul Scholes and Teddy Sheringham weren’t the quickest United players ever. Both won the Champions League in their time at Old Trafford.
What clubs are interested in O’Riley?
While Manchester United are now at the front of the waiting list to sign O’Reilly, Liverpool and Arsenal have also had interest among Premier League clubs, while Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg and Lille are the ones following his lead on the continent.
It is possible that Fulham, a West London boy, made the mistake of letting him leave for free for MK Dons in late 2020. Their neighbors Chelsea could do worse than sign him with injuries to N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic.
When does O’Riley’s contract expire?
O’Riley’s contract with Celtic runs until May 31, 2026, hence the bumper fee talk – on Scottish terms at least.
How old is O’Reilly?
O’Riley was born on November 21, 2000, making him 21 at the time of writing. He shares his date of birth with his Celtic teammate, Ryo Hattat.