Celtic icon Charlie Nicholas labels Riley McGree ‘greedy’ after turning down Celtic for Middlesbrough move
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The attacking midfielder appeared close to joining countryman Ange Postecoglou with the Hoops until an eleventh hour counter-bid worth an extra £2m from English Championship side Middlesbrough changed his mind.
It was thought McGree’s close relationship with the Celtic manager, who handed him his first international call-up at the age of 18, had rubber-stamped the player’s decision to move to Glasgow.
However, the 23-year-old has since completed his switch to the Riverside on a three-and-a-half year deal.
Hoops icon Nicholas reckons McGree’s decision could prove to be a blessing in disguise, insisting Postecoglou has been spared having to deal with a player who could have been looking for another move in the near future.
Writing in his Daily Express column, Nicholas said: “A lot of people are asking why Riley McGree would pick Middlesbrough over Celtic.
“It looks like the player got greedy. Money is simply more important to him at this stage in his career.
“The bottom line is that Celtic could have signed McGree and, 12 or 18 months down the line, he could well have been agitating for another move.
“Celtic wouldn’t have found out the lad’s character had they not been involved in this transfer saga, so maybe it has worked out in their favour.
“Ange Postecoglou has won over the Celtic players and the last thing he needs is to have a player causing friction behind the scenes.
“People are buying into what the manager is doing, he has already won the first piece of silverware up for grabs and this Celtic squad is only going to get stronger.
“I liked the way Postecoglou dealt with the McGree transfer setback. He came out and made it clear that he is only interested in dealing with players who want to be at Parkhead.
“It was a thinly-veiled dig at his young compatriot. It wasn’t quite on the scale of the infamous Maurice Johnston transfer but there was certainly a bit of intrigue about it.
“Postecoglou said he had spoken to McGree himself and it looked like he had got assurances from the lad that he was coming.
“The only question I was asking was why Postecoglou felt he needed another midfielder.
“David Turnbull will be back from injury soon and they already have a lot of options in that area.
“Postecoglou said last week that he has nothing else in the pipeline but I think he will do more business before the transfer window closes, especially if he offloads some fringe players.”
Meanwhile, Kyogo Furuhashi is set to miss the second Old Firm clash of the season after Hoops boss Postecoglou issued an update on his injured striker.
The Japanese sensation faces an extended lay-off and won’t meet up with the Japan national team next weekend due to ongoing fitness concerns.
Furuhashi suffered a recurrence of a hamstring problem against St Johnstone on Boxing Day and dropped out of training last week as the squad returned from their festive break.
He is now certain to sit out the Parkhead showdown against Glasgow rivals Rangers on February 2.
Speaking to BBC Sportsound last night, the Australia said: “It’s fair to say he hasn’t recovered from the injury.
“We’re still getting advice but he’ll miss the next couple of weeks at east, maybe longer.
“In terms of definite time frames we just need to wait for more info. Hopefully during the week we’ll learn more.”