EVEN if you don’t remember hearing the name of Riley McGree before now, the chances are that you might have seen him play.

The Australian ‘went viral’, as they say, back in 2018 as he scored an outrageous scorpion kick for Newcastle Jets against Melbourne City in the A League, with the video of the goal being viewed millions of times by football fans all over the world.

Mo Salah ultimately pipped him to the Puskas award for the year’s best goal, and since then, McGree’s career hasn’t quite taken him to a level where he is again rubbing shoulders with such illustrious company.

That isn’t to say though that he hasn’t been doing well, and after a move to MLS expansion club Charlotte FC, who immediately loaned him to Birmingham City for 18 months, he is catching the eye of various English Championship clubs - as well as Celtic, who are in talks to sign him in this transfer window.

Ange Postecoglou is of course familiar with the 23-year-old from his time as the Australian national team coach, selecting him for a World Cup qualifier squad when he was just 18. Postecoglou said at the time: "I thought he looked exciting from the moment he broke into the Adelaide team.

"I really like the way he has adjusted to playing in an unfamiliar position against some really good opponents.

"He has played Champions League and A-League and he is just someone that I want to have a look at.

"Ultimately, as a young player coming into our league he has already made an impression."

The forward-thinking midfielder’s impressive performances for a struggling City side this season have won admirers not only among scouts, but among the devastated Birmingham faithful who are resigned to losing one of the bright sparks of an otherwise pretty dismal season for the Championship strugglers.

He had to show resilience – a quality much admired by Postecoglou - when he first went to St Andrews in October 2020, as he struggled for game-time under then manager Aitor Karanka. His omission from the side at that time puzzled his teammates, but after thriving under Lee Bowyer, the likes of defender George Friend have made it clear how much they wish he could stay at the club in the longer term.

“He has been great, hasn’t he? He is a very good player,” Friend said.

“He has had a really tough time here because under Karanka he just didn’t play, even though every day in training he was arguably the best player.

“He has waited and he has got a great temperament and personality - and most of all he is a talented footballer, so I hope he can stay on some level.”

McGree broke through with his local side Adelaide United and soon attracted the attention of big clubs around Europe. It was Club Brugge who would make a move for him, taking McGree to Belgium at the age of just 18.

He didn’t make the first team though, and was subsequently loaned back to the A-League on two occasions, firstly with Newcastle Jets – where he worked under Scottish coach Ernie Merrick – and then to Melbourne City.

“He is a young lad who is very quick and has a range of skills,” Merrick said.

“He has a great left foot, can score goals and, as he has shown, can create them as well. He is the type of player I like, very flexible and willing to play a range of positions.”

After that, he earned a permanent move back to the place where it all began for him, and it was back on home soil in Adelaide that his career really started to take off.

Playing as a number 10, the left-footed McGree was known for drifting in off the right flank to get shots away. He took the A-League by storm, hitting 10 goals and chalking up five assists in 23 games. That record earned him the A-League Young Player of the Year Award, and again the vultures were circling.

This time, it was Charlotte FC who pounced, making him only their second ever signing. What made it a curious move though was that the new club were not actually scheduled to play their first matches until this coming MLS season, leading to the loan move to Birmingham that eventually expired in December.

McGree is a ‘risk/reward’ player, with his career passing completion stats hovering only around the 80 percent mark due to his tendency to try to unlock defences with incisive forward passing. The best comparison therefore within the Celtic midfield would be with countryman Tom Rogic, rather than the more reliable, safer passing of Callum McGregor, for instance.

If Celtic are to land their man, it is understood that they will have to part with a fee of around £2.5m, which given his relatively young age and scope for further improvement, may prove to be a shrewd investment.

They will also have to beat off interest though from the likes of Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, who are also known to be keen on bringing McGree in.

Celtic will hope that their trump card – the player’s relationship with and respect for Postecoglou - may tip the balance in their favour.