Matt O’Riley Holds The Cards As Celtic Reject Latest Atletico Bid

Celtic's Matt O'Riley

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“If a player doesn’t want to be here then my experience is, you’re better off moving them on.”

The words of Brendan Rodgers just last week when asked about increasing transfer speculation surrounding some of his top players.

“If a player doesn’t want to be here then my experience is, you’re better off moving them on.”

So, put simply, does Matt O’Riley still want to be a Celtic player by the morning of the 2nd of February?

Because realistically that’s what this is all going to come down to.

Despite the player putting open to paper on an extended contract in summer that – in theory – ties him to the club until summer 2027 player power dictates that he holds all the cards.

Signed from MK Dons – then in League One – in January of 2022, O’Riley has been a revelation at Celtic under both Ange Postecoglou and Brendan Rodgers and it’s clear that at some point the talented midfielder would be destined for bigger things.

It’s earlier than we all hoped for, but have we now reached that point?

Is two years now the average time we can expect to enjoy such talents at Celtic before they head for the glamour and the wealth that La Liga, The English Premier League or some other “Top 5” destination offers?

FANS FAVOURITE

O'Riley Has Been In Sparkling Form For Celtic This Season
O’Riley Has Been In Sparkling Form For Celtic This Season

From a fans point of view there would be serious concern if the club do decide to accept a big money offer for O’Riley, with the suggestion that Spanish giants Atletico Madrid want to take the player on loan now with an obligation to then buy in summer.

Celtic have reportedly rejected an initial bid from Diego Simeone’s side.

The news has also “sparked a bidding war” with other EPL sides now alerted to the potential of the Danish international becoming available for transfer.

Most of us presumed O’Riley’s time in the Hoops would come to a natural end by this summer with the hope that he’d sign off having secured a third successive Scottish Premiership title.

However, with the gap at the top now narrowing it would seem like self-sabotage to sanction a move for a player who’s been Celtic’s most creative player this season by some distance.

The fans clearly want O’Riley to stay, the manager does too.

What’s less clear are the intentions of the club, and of course the player himself.

MAKING MOVES

O'Riley Celebrates A Recent Goal Against St Mirren
The Midfielder Celebrates A Recent Goal Against St Mirren

When entering any transfer window the cliché is that you hope to come out of the window stronger than when it started.

With just Nicolas Kuhn added and a few fringe players making exits it’s unclear at this point if Celtic have done so.

With most of us hoping for further big money arrivals, the recent reports about O’Riley as well as team-mates Liel Abada and Cameron Carter-Vickers are the last thing we want to hear.

If O’Riley were to leave then Celtic should hold out for nothing less than a record fee, meaning that minimum of £25M should be commanded from any potential buyers.

However, with a suggested £60M prize on offer for Champions League qualification next season then surely holding on to one of our prized assets until the summer should be an absolute priority for the club.

Support the manager, reward the fans and do everything possible to keep happy a player who could be pivotal in deciding the destination of this season’s title.

At that point, should the 22 year old see his future elsewhere then – sad as we’d be to lose him – that’s the way things go, and he would move on with everyone’s best wishes.

The above is our best case scenario, however, is it Matt O’Riley’s?

A crucial 7 days await.

Tune in now to the latest episode of The Celtic Exchange Weekly as we cover all the latest as Celtic enter the final week of the January Window.

Available wherever you get your podcasts, on YouTube or via the player below.

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