Ange Postecoglou has dropped a claim regarding Celtic’s failed bid to bring Riley McGree to Parkhead in the January transfer window.
In recent comments cited by the Glasgow Evening Times, the Bhoys boss revealed that the former Charlotte FC midfielder, for whom it was reported that Celtic had agreed a £3m deal with the MLS club this month, required convincing of a move to Glasgow – something the 56-year-old was not prepared to do.
The 23-year-old ultimately decided that he would prefer a move to Championship side Middlesbrough ahead of a switch to Parkhead, but from Postecouglou’s recent remarks, it would not appear that the Australia international’s choice is something which will be keeping him awake at night.
Speaking about his negotiations with McGree, the Celtic manager said: “I had a discussion with him and then he obviously decided he wanted to take an opportunity elsewhere, which is fine. It wasn’t really anything too drastic for us.
“It’s an indication for me that this isn’t the right place for him. It works both ways. I only want players who want to be here. I won’t try and convince any player to come and sign for this football club. I won’t. If they can’t see the opportunities that exist here then that’s part of the deal for me. The ones we have signed all wanted to come here.
“It’s an easy decision. Everyone has their own free will to decide what’s best for them. But I’m not going to sell this club to anyone on its attributes or virtues. If they can’t understand that in the first place then they’re probably not worth talking to from my perspective.
“To be honest, I don’t care. I don’t dig that deeply into it. Ultimately they are not rejecting me, they are not rejecting the football club. Everyone has their own free will to make decisions.
“It’s the same for both parties. It’s not just one party who decided not to go ahead. We decided not to go ahead as well. Because for me what’s most important is they want to come here. It’s no big issue for me. There are plenty of footballers who would love to come to this football club. They are the ones I’m looking for.”
While Postecoglou very much seems to be putting on a brave face over McGree’s decision to join Middlesbrough, the fact remains that the midfielder opted to make a move to a club in the second tier of English football ahead of Celtic. That will undoubtedly leave both the 56-year-old and fans of the Hoops fuming.
Indeed, the 23-year-old appeared to be a perfect signing for the Bhoys, with the Australian being left-footed, as well as able to play in a two-man midfield, at number eight, number 10 and even left wing-back – a position in which Celtic lack considerable depth.
Furthermore, the £540k-rated player had impressed over his 13 Championship appearances while on loan at Birmingham City in the first half of the current campaign. He scored two goals, provided two assists and created three big chances for his teammates, as well as making 1.4 key passes, 1.3 interceptions and 1.2 tackles and winning 4.8 duels per game.
As such, the fact that McGree has opted to join a Championship club ahead of competing for the league title and playing European football with Celtic will have undoubtedly come as a huge blow to Postecoglou, whether he likes to admit it or not.