The Canadian defender is currently away with his national team at the World Cup and put an impressive display against Belgium in the Maple Leafs’ narrow 1-0 defeat. With Celtic looking to bolster their options at right-back due to anticipated high January interest in Josip Juranovic, Johnston has emerged as their principal target and a deal looks close for the 24-year-old. MLS journalist Tim Bogert tweeted: “Celtic in advanced talks to sign CF Montreal and Canada defender Alistair Johnston. Nothing done yet but advanced. Johnston, 24, has 31 caps with Canada & made 77 apps in MLS with Montreal and Nashville.”
Celtic have already strengthened their squad ahead of the January transfer window reopening with the signing of Japanese centre-back Yuki Kobayashi on a five-year deal. Manager Ange Postecoglou hinted at more transfer business after announced the capture of Kobayashi and the Australian is keen to replicate last January’s window, when business was done early and players were able to settle into the first team quicker than their rivals.
On a potential move, Johnston remained coy but admitted it his dream to play overseas. “There is only so much I can say right now but if an opportunity arises, sure,” he said on a potential transfer away from Montreal. “I am really happy at Montreal and we have a great thing going, but at the same time I want to test myself, and I want to see how high I can go. That’s something that for all athletes deep down is in our DNA. You want to be competitive and push yourself to play against the best and see how high you can go.
“We never want to look back at our career and have the, ‘What if?’ question. I’ve nightmares thinking about that. I want to push the boundaries of what is physically capable for me. If that means going overseas, and trying to see what kind of level I can play at, then so be it. We will see how the World Cup goes and we will see what happens after that.”
Celtic are likely to pay a seven-figure fee for Johnston’s services, with his former club Nashville entitled to ten per cent of any windfall. He is next in action on Sunday when Canada take on Croatia in their next Group F player and will ironically come up against Juranovic, the man he might replace in the Celtic starting XI.