It’s no surprise to read reports that Matt O’Riley is on the verge of a call up to Denmark’s senior squad for the forthcoming October internationals following the sparkling form he’s shown for Celtic across the season so far.
Having picked up four U21 caps since his international introduction in March of last year, the improvements in the midfielder’s overall game are plain to see and it’d now be more surprising if national manager Kasper Hjulmand DIDN’T see a place for him alongside Christian Eriksen and co.
At club level O’Riley has started all eight games of the new campaign under Brendan Rodgers and is clearly flourishing under the new regime.
Four goals and two assists, having only scored four in total across the whole of last season, tells you all you need to know about where he currently finds himself.
At this rate double figures should be the minimum target he sets for himself this season, though that in itself looks like it may be under threat by Christmas.
Impressive as his goal contribution has been however, it’s his overall performances in the heart of Celtic’s midfield that will please the manager most.
He’s as close to a box-to-box midfielder as we’ve seen at Celtic since Scott Brown at his peak and looks equally comfortable driving into the oppositions final third as he does when making a vital interception at the other end.
At 22 years of age he continues to show a maturity beyond his years and speaking after Saturday’s win at Livingston he displayed this once again when asked about the improvements we’re seeing in his game this season.
“I think if I’m not improving each season then I probably have to look at what I’m doing off the pitch as well.
I dedicate my whole life to trying to improve myself as a footballer player, and as a person, so I’m glad that it’s showing, but at the same time there’s still a long way to go.”
That the young Dane is only set to get better is something to get seriously excited about, and he’s undoubtedly got the potential to become Celtic’s most valuable player – if he isn’t already.
Currently under contract until May of 2026 there should be no immediate concerns over losing the player on the cheap anytime soon, and rumours that a £10M offer from Leeds at the end of the summer window was swiftly kicked into touch indicate that the club and the player feel similarly on the matter.
Talks are ongoing on extending his deal at improved terms and should Celtic manage to get that over the line in the coming weeks then it could be our most important business of the season.
In the meantime the young Dane will continue to do what he does, both in the green and white of Celtic and increasing likely in the red and white of Denmark.
It’s shaping up to be his biggest season yet – and it’s only September.