MK Dons midfielder Matt O’Riley has left the club to join Scottish giants Celtic.
O’Riley has moved to Glasgow on a four-and-a-half year contract for an undisclosed fee, with a bid having been accepted by the Dons earlier this week after Celtic met a release clause in O’Riley’s MK Dons contract.
The 21-year-old joined MK Dons a free transfer in January 2021 after being released by Fulham at the end of the 2019-20 season. At the Dons, O’Riley scored 10 goals in 54 games in all competitions, with his first and final goals coming against AFC Wimbledon.
O’Riley was named as the EFL’s Young Player of the Month in November 2021, after a month where he scored four in four appearances.
The move sees O’Riley become Celtic’s fifth new signing of the window, subject to international clearance, and he could be eligible for selection for Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie against Alloa.
It also comes in a month where the Dons have seen Andy Fisher, Charlie Brown and Laurie Walker leave on a permanent basis, while Ethan Robson, Peter Kioso, Max Watters and Josh Martin have had loan moves curtailed.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou told his club’s official website that he was looking forward to working with his new signing. He said, “We’re delighted to get Matt into the club. He’s someone who should fit in well with the group we have here, both from on the field and also the kind of person he is.
“We’re looking forward to having him as part of the group. He’s a talented young player and I’m sure he’ll enjoy his time here, and I’m sure he’ll add to what we’ve already started.”
Reports linking O’Riley with a move to Celtic Park first emerged earlier this week, with The Athletic reporting a bid had been accepted. Further reports then confirmed a fee was agreed and the player had passed a medical to move to Scotland.
For a lot of the January window, O’Riley had been linked with a reunion with ex-MK Dons manager Russell Martin at Swansea City, with Martin saying on multiple times he would like to bring him in before conceding the club wouldn’t be able to bring him to South Wales in a press conference earlier this week.
O’Riley also got linked with Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers, while some rumours have suggested the midfielder was also the subject of a late bid from West Bromwich Albion before the move to Scotland was confirmed.
MK Dons Sporting Director Liam Sweeting thanked O’Riley for his services.
In a statement on the MK Dons website, he said, “It is with reluctance that we say goodbye to Matt, who has been a terrific performer for us since joining the Club last January.
“Matt took a gamble by agreeing to come to MK Dons – a move that demonstrates the bravery and character of a player who will undoubtably enjoy a long and successful career at the top.
“We have always been aware of Matt’s desire to return to a higher level which is why there was a release clause in place in the contract he signed with us – one that suited both parties in terms of the opportunity to progress and the financial reward for us, both in the short term and long term.
“That said, from the moment Matt arrived, he has been committed and dedicated to the cause and has certainly helped to leave the Club in a better place than when we arrived. For that, we say thank you and we wish him nothing but success moving forwards – he will always be welcomed back at Stadium MK.”