Celtic and Middlesbrough could be poised for another transfer tug-of-war after Riley McGree snubbed the hoops for Teeside in January.
Ange Postecoglou made the first move for the midfielder but it seems that the possibility of playing in the EPL through Boro won the argument with McGree resisting the opportunity of an Aussie reunion.
Celtic quickly switched to Matt O’Riley who hit the ground running with everyone happy with the outcome as McGree and Middlesbrough missed out on a Play Off place.
Another transfer blast from the past has resurfaced today with January 2021 one that Celtic fans would rather forget. Jeremie Frimpong, Olivier Nthcam and Hayem Abd Elhamed moved out with Jonjoe Kenny arriving at right-back.
Typical of Celtic transfer business was a laboured move for Preston’s Ben Davies, an impressive Championship performer running down his contract while Celtic faced up to a complete overhaul of central defence.
Shane Duffy had failed badly, Chris Jullien was facing a long term lay-off while Kris Ajer seemed a certainty to be on the move at the end of the season.
Rather than make some sort of statement by signing Davies from Preston it seemed that a pre-contract deal was the preferred option of Peter Lawwell. Unfortunately an injury crisis at Liverpool forced the issue, Preston picked up £500,000 with their defender making the short trip to Anfield.
Davies never made it further than the substitute bench, last season he was sent on loan to Sheffield United with reality kicking in that his future doesn’t lie with Liverpool.
This afternoon The Liverpool Echo reports:
Signed for an initial £500k, his transfer from Preston could have eventually been worth £1.6m thanks to add-ons, though his fortunes on Merseyside have ensured those add-ons have not been activated. Meanwhile, by demanding a £500k loan fee last summer, Liverpool have already made that initial outlay back by sending Davies on loan to Sheffield United.
And now they look set to make a comfortable profit on a player who never kicked a ball for the club. The ECHO understands that both Middlesbrough and Celtic are interested in signing the defender this summer, and while neither have placed bids as yet, both have made contact with Liverpool.
Such interest should not be a surprise, considering Celtic had been poised to sign Davies from Preston before the Reds swooped in back in 2021, while Sheffield United’s interest dated back to Chris Wilder’s time at the club, with the Boro boss particularly keen to bring the 26-year-old to the Riverside Stadium.
Having spent £10m to bring Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt together Postecoglou has his first choice central defence firmly in place, both men played every minute of every SPFL Premiership match in 2022.
Stephen Welsh has been left kicking his heels, at the age of 26 it seems unlikely that after his Liverpool experience Davies will be joining a new club as back-up to an established defensive pairing.