Celtic close to £3million deal for Australian international Riley McGree after impressive loan stint in England

The 23-year-old playmaker caught the eye during his 18-month spell at Birmingham City in the English Championship

Celtic are closing in on a deal for Australian international Riley McGree with the attacking midfielder poised to join his countryman Ange Postecoglou in Glasgow.

The 23-year-old playmaker has spent the past 18 months on loan at Birmingham City, and returned to his parent club Charlotte FC at the end of 2021 to prepare for the new MLS season.

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However, the Hoops are now expected to beat a host of English Championship sides to his permanent signature this month for a fee of around £3million.

McGree was a bright spark in Lee Boywer’s side, making 30 appearances and scoring three goals, while providing two assists during his stint at St Andrews.

Riley McGree has been capped seven times by Australia.

It is believed the Blues were keen to extend his loan until the end of the season, with his teammate George Friend issuing a plea for the club to keep the fans favourite.

He stated: “Riley has been great, he’s a very good player. He has had a really tough time here because under (Aitor) Karanka he just didn’t play, even though every day in training he was arguably the best player.

“He has waited and he has got a great temperament and personality - and most of all he is a talented footballer.”

However, the Major Soccer League outfit were only open to a permanent move, which Birmingham couldn’t afford, paving the way for Celtic to swoop for him.

It appears manager Ange Postecoglou has managed to convince McGree to move to Parkhead and the seven-time capped Aussie could become the club’s fifth addition of the January transfer window.

Kenny scored 11 times in the League of Ireland Premier Division last season and impressed Celtic scouts.

After signing a new three-year-deal with Sligo in November, the Hoops activated a six-figure release clause as part of the agreement, beating Premiership rivals Hibernian to the Republic of Ireland youth international.

A statement released on social media read: “#CelticFC is delighted to announce that Jonny Kenny will be joining Celtic from @Sligorovers on a 5-year contract subject to usual conditions and international clearance.”

The youngster joins Celtic’s three other recent signings, Japanese trio Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate.