What’s the word?
As per ESPN, the Red Devils are among several of the Premier League‘s top clubs who are interested in the 21-year-old – alongside both Liverpool and Arsenal – with a late approach potentially in the offing from one of those suitors before the window is out.
The report suggests that the former MK Dons gem could be available for a fee of around £15m-£20m despite his current club’s reluctance to sell, having been signed by the Glasgow outfit in a £1.5m deal in January.
However, the report claims that the most likely clubs to make an offer in the next few days are Newcastle United and Leicester City, with both Wolfsburg and Lille having also scouted him in recent times.
De Jong alternative
The young playmaker has warranted such attention following a sparkling start to life in Glasgow, the former Fulham youth product scoring four goals and providing three assists in 16 league games in the second half of last season.
Dubbed a “magician” by talent scout Jacek Kulig, the 6 foot 2 ace has emerged as a leading figure in Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side in recent months, having started all four league games for the Scottish champions in the early weeks of the new campaign.
The London-born starlet could well prove an ideal bargain alternative to Barcelona‘s Frenkie de Jong, with the Dutchman now looking “increasingly unlikely” to be making the move to Old Trafford, according to journalist Sam Pilger.
The 25-year-old has been a concrete target for Erik ten Hag since May, but even after agreeing an €85m (£72m) fee with the La Liga giants, there has been little movement with regards to the deal, with the Netherlands international seemingly reluctant to leave the comforts of Camp Nou.
Should United sign O’Riley?
A “genius” of a player – in the words of his current boss Xavi – the former Ajax gem is a truly gifted midfield asset, offering that delightful link between defence and attack with either an incisive forward pass or a surging from deep. Notably, he ranks in the top 6% for progressive passes received and the top 7% for progressive carries among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues over the past 12 months.
Hailed as a “very intelligent player” by Ronald Koeman, De Jong could well mirror O’Riley in that regard, with the latter having also been praised for his intelligence by his former MK Dons boss Russell Martin.
The 36-year-old said of the Denmark underage international: “He can do pretty much everything. He has good vision, he’s a good athlete and is an extremely articulate boy. He’s one of the most intelligent footballers I’ve ever worked with.”
While it will likely require a sizeable fee and a great deal of persuasion to tempt the 44-cap gem out of Barcelona, it could prove an astute piece of business by United to turn to the Celtic man instead, particularly having already brought in Casemiro for a hefty £70m.
While not the kind of high-profile addition to which the Red Devils have become accustomed in recent years, O’Riley could well grow into a future, De Jong-esque star in the coming years.