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Chris Sutton’s rapid reaction to offer for Matt O’Riley

Chris Sutton was very quick to react to the story from Sky Sports News that Atletico Madrid had placed a bid for Matt O’Riley.

From his vantage point, covering Scottish football for Sky Sports, there is no doubt over who has been the stand out player in the SPFL so far this season.

While others have struggled to adapt to the way that Brendan Rodgers wants his side to play the former MK Dons midfielder has excelled, taking on more responsibility, scoring regularly and has become the player that opponents have to stop when they are playing Celtic.

Two years on from his move to Scotland O’Riley is in absolute top form, Celtic fans know what is likely to come next but that can’t be considered in mid-season as Sutton pointed out as he reacted to the story that broke just before lunchtime today.

With Aaron Mooy retiring and Reo Hatate troubled by injuries O’Riley has stepped up this season, sharing the midfield load with Callum McGregor with the bonus of goals and assists to keep Celtic out in front.

The goals of Kyogo Furuhashi, at Ibrox and Celtic Park, have been the deciding factor in both of the Glasgow Derbies, it is no coincidence that O’Riley provided the assist for both goals. Sutton has watched those performances at close hand, he knows the value of the Danish midfielder to his old club.

History has shown that top players rarely stay at Celtic beyond three years, that time span was reduced further in the recent cases of Jota, Josip Juranovic, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Carl Starfelt.

With only Nicolas Kuhn added to the squad this month there is little to suggest that Celtic have identified someone ready to step in and replace the contribution of O’Riley.

Paulo Bernardo has been much improved over the last month but even a few more months playing alongside O’Riley would help his game far more than being expected to instantly step up to the levels of his midfield team-mate.

Last week Brendan Rodgers dismissed speculation linking Girona with an interest in signing O’Riley, there seems to be more substance and detail on the Atletico bid but it won’t be until Friday that supporters here from the manager.

There is a clamour for new signings this month but a week on from signing Nicolas Kuhn it looks like retaining current assets could be presented as progress when the Transfer Window closes at midnight on February 1.

CLICK HERE for Championship interest in Mikey Johnston.

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