£22.9m rated Celtic star handed brutal Premier League transfer verdict as he's told EPL is a pipe dream

Frank McAvennie doesn’t believe Celtic’s standout performer has the ability to adapt to English football
Matt O'Riley has been a standout performer for Celtic this term.Matt O'Riley has been a standout performer for Celtic this term.
Matt O'Riley has been a standout performer for Celtic this term.

Former Celtic and West Ham striker Frank McAvennie claims that highly rated Hoops midfielder Matt O’Riley is not capable of playing at a higher level than he is currently at.

O’Riley has been one of the most coveted footballers in the Scottish Premiership in recent windows and Brendan Rodgers fought hard to keep the player at the club during the January transfer window amid well documented transfer interest from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. 

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Reports from Sky Sports at the time reveal that Celtic turned down an initial loan offer which included an obligation to buy in the summer for a figure claimed to be in the region of around £22.9m.

Rodgers told reporters at the time: “Matt is a player we don't want to lose and he won't be going anywhere in January.

"It's a great testament to him and what the club can do for a player. He won his first international cap this season and Atletico Madrid are a big club in European football.

He is very much part of what we are doing. He has been a joy to work with."

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It is hardly surprising to see that O’Riley has attracted suitors in recent months. He is currently viewed as a key contender for the Player of The Season award, having registered 11 goals and 15 assists in the league.

Premier League side West Ham are also thought to be admirers of the Danish international. Although, McAvennie, a former Hammer,  insisted that the 23-year-old is not capable of coping with the pace of the division.

He told Football Insider: ““If I’m being honest, since that [Atletico Madrid] bid came in, he’s not been great.

“I played for four years in midfield and I’m a great believer that they should not play with their backs to the goal. That’s the biggest thing and it’s a major fault of Celtic. The midfielders run up and try to get the ball to their feet, but they need to leave that space for the attackers.

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“I like O’Riley and I think he has the world at his feet. He’s come up here and done brilliantly and he’s a wonderful talent. But I don’t know if he’ll move somewhere bigger than Celtic. I don’t know if he could do it in the English Premier League because of the pace. I don’t know if Matt has that pace even if he has that ability.”

McAvennie believes that O’Riley’s attributes would work better in another division and claimed that Serie A might be a better fit.

He concluded: “Could he go abroad? Yes, definitely. He could hold his own in Serie A because it’s more about tactics than pace.”

Celtic face Livingston in their next match, before travelling to arch-rivals Rangers in a crunch title decider. O’Riley is likely to play an important role in both games and will hope to end the season on a high as he looks to make the plane for Denmark’s Euro 2024 campaign. If O’Riley goes to the tournament he will face England, Serbia and Slovenia in the group stage of the tournament.

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