Celtic could land dream O’Riley partner after talks to sign 5 ft 11 ace

The January transfer window is due to slam shut in just over a week and Scottish giants Celtic appear set to enjoy, or endure, a busy end to the month.

Brendan Rodgers has already made one signing so far this month as 24-year-old winger Nicolas Kuhn has joined from Austrian side Rapid Wien on a five-and-a-half-year deal.

That is expected to be the first of many before the end of the window as the Northern Irish head coach also has his eye on a left-back, a goalkeeper, and a striker, according to a recent report from Football Insider.


This means that Hoops supporters could have an exciting 12 days or so to look forward to if the club are able to land their top targets to bolster the squad ahead of the second half of the season.

Alongside Kuhn, a left-back, a goalkeeper, and a centre-forward, Celtic are also reportedly attempting to land a new defensive midfielder for Rodgers.

Celtic have held talks to land South Korean talent

According to the Daily Record, the Bhoys have held talks with FC Gwangju over a deal to sign their talented enforcer Ho-yeon Jung before the end of the window.

The Scottish giants are eyeing up a swoop for the impressive midfielder to bolster their options in the middle of the park, which comes after Hyeok-kyu Kwon was allowed to join St. Mirren on loan until the end of the season earlier this month.


It states that there is a ‘good’ chance that a move will progress between the two sides over a transfer for the South Korean battler before the deadline at the start of February.

However, there is no mention of how much Gwangju would demand for his services, how much Celtic are prepared to pay for him in January, or how the talks between the two clubs went.

The Daily Record do add, though, that the South Korean side would prefer Jung to depart at the end of the year. This suggests that they could put a deal off until the end of the season or ask the Hoops to loan him back to them until the 2023/24 campaign.

If Celtic are able to tempt Gwangju into a deal for the midfielder before the deadline, Rodgers could land a dream partner for Matt O’Riley in the middle of the park.


Sky Sports journalist Anthony Joseph has reported that Spanish side Girona are interested in a deal to sign the Denmark international ahead of the second half of the campaign.

However, the reporter stated that the club are in a strong position after the central midfielder put pen to paper on a ‘bumper’ contract, which means that they are in control of the situation.

O’Riley’s Premiership dominance this season

The 23-year-old magician has been in magnificent form so far this season for the Hoops and has proven himself to be one of the manager’s top performers in the division.

He has made the Scottish Premiership his playground with his ability to influence matches at the top end of the pitch on a regular basis for the Bhoys.

O’Riley has contributed with ten goals and seven assists in 21 top-flight matches as a central midfielder, which is more than one goal contribution every other game on average.

No Celtic player has scored more league goals than the Danish ace. He is the only ace who has made it into the double figures for Rodgers, with Kyogo Furuhashi (eight) and David Turnbull (seven) the closest to him.

Meanwhile, Luis Palma (nine) is the only Hoops star with more assists than O’Riley and the only player in the squad with more key passes per game (3.4) than the ex-Fulham prospect (2.6).

22/23 Premiership

Matt O’Riley (via Sofascore)







Big chances created


Key passes per game


As you can see in the table above, the impressive Celtic star has significantly improved his goalscoring output from the middle of the park in comparison to last season.

He has developed the ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis whilst remaining a constant creative presence for his teammates.

Why Jung could be a dream partner for O’Riley

Rodgers could now land a dream partner for O’Riley in midfield with a deal for Jung as he is an impressive defensive midfielder who is also super reliable in possession.

The 23-year-old caught the eye with his impressive displays in the top-flight of South Korean football throughout 2023 and could be an excellent signing for Celtic if the talented ace can translate those showings over to the Premiership.

Most recent performance for Gwangju

Vs Pohang Steelers (03/12/23)

Ho-yeon Jung (via Sofascore)

Minutes played


Sofascore rating


Duels won


Pass accuracy


Chances created


As you can see in the table above, Jung is capable of having highly creative performances in midfield whilst also being a strong presence off the ball.

Jung made 34 K League 1 appearances throughout 2023 and provided his manager with a tough-tackling option, with 2.9 tackles and interceptions combined and 5.4 ball recoveries per match.

Meanwhile, no Celtic midfielder has managed more than 2.6 tackles and interceptions per game in the Premiership this season, which suggests that the Hoops target could add a bit more steel to Rodgers’ options in that position.

The 5 foot 11 gem, who was once described as a “good prospect” by Asian football expert Dario Focardi, is also impressive with his work in possession.

Jung completed 90% of his attempted passes in the K League 1 last year and only Callum McGregor (93%) and Cameron Carter-Vickers (92.1%) have averaged a higher success rate in the Premiership out of every Celtic player with at least one start.

This suggests that the Gwangju star could retain the ball at an exceptional rate for Rodgers whilst also being a fantastic defender who can win possession back multiple times per game by cutting out opposition attacks.

Therefore, Jung could be a dream partner for O’Riley as he could sit at the base of the midfield and recover the ball before using his efficient passing to find the Danish magician in dangerous positions, where he can then work his magic in the final third.

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