Southampton’s £20m plus add-ons bid for Matt O’Riley doomed to fail

News emerged late last night on the numbers in Southampton’s attempt to secure the signature of Matt O’Riley from Celtic.

According to Scott Burns (writing in Daily Record) who has a decent record on transfer stories, the newly promoted Saints will offer Celtic £20m plus add-ons to win the race for Celtic’s Player of the Year, who has multiple clubs pursuing an interest in his signature, notably Atletico Madrid.

Whether Matt O’Riley sees himself battling away in the Premier League for the winners of the Championship Play-off is one thing. However before he even gets to give that difficult task any proper consideration, the man that will save him the bother is Celtic CEO Michael Nicholson.

Remember back to Celtic’s decision to allow Kieran Tierney to leave. That was going to happen if and only if Celtic’s valuation was met. Celtic made it known that the valuation was £25m and if you recall, Arsenal attempted many different ways to get the deal done with a smaller sum being paid up front, without any success.

Celtic held firm on their £25m price tag and eventually, towards the end of the window the deal was done and Kieran Tierney signed for Arsenal for £25m.

This time around Celtic are looking for £30m for Matt O’Riley and have multiple clubs in England, Italy, Spain and probably elsewhere interested in signing the Denmark international midfielder. Nicholson is likely to be unimpressed with Saints’ further jam tomorrow if their manager Russell Martin can keep them up.

As the third best side coming up from the Championships that usually means that Southampton will be favourites for the drop, unless of course Martin, who worked with Matt O’Riley at MK Dons, can work wonders. A big part of that will be in the summer transfer window and Matt O’Riley would be a sound investment, even at Celtic’s asking price of £30m.

MK Dons incidentally will be due a sell-on fee from their £1.5m transfer deal with Celtic in January 2022, with Celtic taking advantage of the clause in O’Riley’s contract with the League One side that fixed that transfer fee.

Matt O’Riley signed a new contract extension at Celtic last October with Celtic rejecting a £18m offer from Atletico Madrid in the January window, the deal was an initial loan with an commitment to buy this summer, but it was thrown out by the Celtic Board.

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Matt is much more likely to fancy playing with an elite club in the Champions League, rather than being involved in a relegation dog-fight. Celtic have sold two midfielders to South Coast sides in recent years, Stuart Armstrong to Southampton and Ryan Christie to Bournemouth. Both were part of Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad at Euro 2024.

Neither former Celt progressed their careers further than Southampton of Bournemouth after leaving Celtic. For Matt O’Riley the sky is the limit and if he is going to sign for a Premier League club it is much more likely to be for one at the top end of the table rather than those likely to be battling relegation from the word go.

Matt O’Riley will only be asked to make that choice when Michael Nicholson gives him the green light and that will only come when Celtic’s valuation is met, mirroring the same approach from the club when Celtic achieved a £25m transfer fee in the Kieran Tierney transfer to Arsenal in August 2019.

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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email

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