COMMENT By Richard Parks
James McClean would be a sensational summer signing for Celtic.
A major overhaul is likely amid speculation that attacking big guns Moussa Dembele, Scott Sinclair and Tom Rogic are all heading for the Parkhead exit door.
With reinforcements need, Derry-born McClean, who is a lifelong Hoops fan and an extremely popular player among the club’s support for his passionate following of the team on social media, would be an ideal fit.
There is strong speculation it could happen and that Celtic are closing in on a deal.
Football Whispers, which gathers all transfer rumours across the globe and calculates the likelihood of them happening, rates McClean as the most likely next signing for the club.
Given a rating of 3.3 out of 5, with five the highest possible ranking and meaning it is a certainty ahead, the West Brom wide man is way ahead in the rankings of Aberdeen defender Scott McKenna (2.0) and Schalke forward Franco Di Santo (1.9).
McClean is desperate to make the move north of the border.
He has confessed that it has been his career ambition to move to Parkhead after he was a spectator during the 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League in 2012.
“It was beyond words really, although I missed the second goal. I was trying to get back down to Sunderland for training next morning and soon as I left the ground, I heard the place erupt,” he said to magazine the Celtic View. “I remember saying to my wife, while I have always wanted to play for Celtic, I wanted to do it even more so that night.
“I’m a Premier League footballer and leaving the ground that night, I was thinking, ‘I would give anything to play for Celtic’.”
— Kerry Keenan (@422Kerry) December 13, 2017
McClean seems likely to leave West Brom in the summer irrespective of them maintaining their top-flight status, which looks very unlikely.
His contract expires in a year’s time, he has only started eight league matches this season – he has come off the bench as a substitute on 16 occasions – and there have been recent reports that the Premier League club are willing to cash in on the 58-times Republic of Ireland international.
Celtic must seize the opportunity to secure a player with experience, pedigree and pace. He could make an even bigger impression than Sinclair, who appears keen on a return to England.
An £8million bid was said to have been rejected from Burnley for McClean last summer but his price will drop to possibly half that figure in the forthcoming window due to his contract situation.
The possibility of the Irishman getting his career wish is increasing by the day.
In other Celtic transfer news, with the deal already done, 14-goal and 12-assist attacker will arrive at Parkhead on 28 April.