Celtic defensive target Mark McKenzie has addressed transfer speculation linking him with a move out of MLS - insisting he wants to play in the Champions League.

The central defender has been linked with a potential Parkhead switch all summer and recently fuelled speculation with hourglass emojis, saying: "Patience patience patience." The cryptic post on social media had Hoops fans clamouring for the Philadelphia Union star to join them in Glasgow.

Now, however, the American has been less subtle with his desire to play in Europe, detailing his ambitions. "Ultimately it’s about the personal experience, I think, so the only way for me to understand it fully is to be over there and to compete,” McKenzie said.

"Whichever club that is, I think it’s going to be the experience of a lifetime, but I have aspirations to play at the highest level, to play Champions League football. I think that’s as simple as it is."

McKenzie hinted he fancies a step-up in weekly competition from the MLS where he'd see more of the ball. "Ultimately, a ball-playing league is a league that I want to be part of," he told MLS Soccer. "I think that, again, that’s where you’re going to be tested and I can’t say what the future holds right now, but ultimately I do see myself playing against, again, these world-class 9s, these world-class 10s, these world-class 7s and 11s who are going to put me under pressure, both defensively and with the ball. 

"But having the capabilities to know that I can play and compete against them is something I’m looking forward to and it’s something that is pushing me day in and day out."

The USA international, 21, won his first cap for his country eight months ago and has 15 months remaining on his deal with Union. A source described McKenzie to Herald and Times Sport as one of the 'most rated young centre backs in MLS' and insisted that the Premiership would be a 'great move'.

Work permit issues could cause some issues but Celtic are likely to be able to get around it without too much hassle.