Having completed the signing of Reo Hatate, Yosuke Ideguchi and Daizen Maeda alongside the promising young Irish striker Johnny Kenny, it appeared Riley McGree the seven times capped Australian attacking midfielder would be Celtic’s fifth summer signing. Now however the Charlotte FC player and his representatives have a choice to make.
With overnight news by way of the well-connected Stephen McGowan of Scottish Daily Mail reporting Middlesbrough have made an improved offer to both club and player, and Celtic holding firm on their own bid having agreed £3million plus addons with the MLS club, it is now down to Riley McGree to make his own mind up.
On one hand Middlesbrough under Chris Wilder, a man who has negotiated the Championship to Premier League route successfully once, with Sheffield United, and has his team sitting just outside the play-off places now, would seem like a possibility of six months of Championship football and then the Premier League for McGree.
However, that in itself is a gamble. Boro are a good club but they are far from certain of promotion, indeed Bournemouth, Fulham, West Brom are all above them and with their own more recent experiences of promotion and indeed the evidenced goalscoring rate to maintain their momentum, it is likely the two automatic promotion places will go to two of those three clubs, with an outside chance of on form Blackburn Rovers having the firepower to maintain their own push and QPR, also above Middlesbrough but of a similar standard to the Teesside club.
That would leave Middlesbrough with the lottery of one side from four remaining play-off contenders to emerge from before the Premier League beckons. There is then the possibility, should McGree head to Boro that his time served in the Championship will extend beyond this season.
On the other hand, financially he’ll be better off than at Celtic, in the short term at least, but he has to weigh that up with what is on offer in Scotland.
Riley McGree will have a manager who knows him, wants him and sees a role for him in a team the manager is clearly building to compete in Europe never mind the domestic silverware McGree could be competing for. If Celtic win the league this season, it is likely to come with automatic promotion to the Champions League, where any players’ value and profile sky rockets. Prove yourself in that arena and the top English and European sides take an interest. Do so with a flair filled attacking philosophy as Ange Postecoglou plays, and you do so in a team who could take a few big scalps along the way and further raise a players’ stock when it comes to interested suitors.
This is the decision Riley McGree has to make, both involve what ifs and maybes and it is a tough decision to make. Whatever happens Celtic will move on to another target and Middlesbrough will do the same. The choice now seems simple enough, plump for the money and the Championship seems the likely destination for this season and possibly next, choose Celtic and it’s a case of win a two-horse race and you’re showcasing your talents on the biggest stage of all and for a manager who will go toe to toe with the very best.
One thing is certain Ange Postecoglou only wants players who wish to play for Celtic. He won’t stand in the way of players who wish to leave the club, nor will he pander to undecideds. So, the decision seems simple for Riley McGree, do you want to play for Celtic? If you have any hesitancy, perhaps this club isn’t for you.
Here’s McGree speaking to Birmingham City TV saying rather ominously that “England is where you want to play”…
— Birmingham City FC (@BCFC) December 30, 2021
Today’s Gossip: Reports move for Riley McGree in doubt. Ange reveals while he likes Barkas work ethic he is very likely to move on this window. Mehdi Ghayedi still being mentioned. Hatate insists he is ready for the challenges of Scottish game. Dundee in for Osaze Urhoghide. HH pic.twitter.com/5sfJ6uK1dk
— Celtic Gossip (@CelticGossip) January 12, 2022