Celtic face huge transfer fight, 32 y/o Dons midfielder jets in, no Rangers stadium concern - SPFL transfers

Atalanta make bid for O’Riley as Aberdeen land new player

Atalanta want O’Riley

Atalanta are expected to come in with a second bid for Celtic midfielder Matt O'Riley after their first offer, believed to be in the region of £17million, was rejected by the Scottish Premiership champions.

The Serie A outfit won the Europa League last season and are preparing for their domestic campaign and an assault on the Champions League. With their own midfielder Teun Koopmeiners wanted by Manchester United and Juventus, Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini has identified O'Riley as a replacement for the Dutchman and sanctioned the opening bid earlier this week.

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O'Riley, 23, was a key part of the Celtic squad that landed the league and Scottish Cup double last season under Brendan Rodgers. The Denmark internationalist, who arrived from MK Dons in January 2022, still has two years left on his contract at Parkhead and it is understood that the club's hierarchy will hold out for a fee in excess of £20m for one of their prized assets.

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Celtic fended off interest in O'Riley from Atletico Madrid last January, but Atalanta are more determined than the La Liga outfit were to land their man. Celtic chiefs are braced for a second bid from the Bergamo-based club to test their resolve.

O'Riley missed out on the Denmark squad for this summer's European Championships and captained Celtic in Wednesday night's 6-4 friendly win over Queen's Park. He is due to fly out to the US with his team-mates next week for a pre-season tour that includes matches against DC United, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Current manager Brendan Rodgers is a huge admirer of O'Riley and has worked hard to improve aspects of the midfielder's game. However, there has been a growing acceptance within Celtic that the club will struggle to hold on to him for much longer given his excellent performances.

Numerous clubs across Europe have been keeping tabs on O'Riley's progress in Glasgow, with newly-promoted English Premier League side Southampton also monitoring his progress closely. Saints manager Russell Martin is also an admirer of Scott McTominay at Manchester United, with the Scotland internationalist's future at Old Trafford still unclear..

Dons land midfielder

Aberdeen manager Jimmy Thelin has been reunited with midfield “leader” Sivert Heltne Nilsen after making the Norwegian the club’s fourth signing of the summer. The 32-year-old has joined on a three-year deal after leaving Brann, where he was captain.

Heltne Nilsen previously worked under Thelin at Swedish side Elfsborg for two years. “Sivert is a leader who brings with him a real will to win,” the Dons manager told his club’s official website. “Having worked with him previously I know he will set standards, both on and off the pitch, and his experience will help some of our emerging talent in the squad. There was a strong desire from Sivert to come to Aberdeen and experience Scottish football.”

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The midfielder, who has captained teams in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and also played in Belgium with Beveren, said: “There are many reasons for coming here. It is an opportunity to play football at a very high level for a number of years and be part of a project with Jimmy, someone I know well.

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“I believe he got the best out of me and I want to learn more from him and I want to be part of this project. I know the supporters in Aberdeen are amazing and the city is a football city. I have been following the club on social media and learning about the history. This is something I want to fight for and I will give everything to make Aberdeen a winning team.”

Hampden move no issue for opponents

Rangers’ impending move to Hampden will have no bearing on their first visitors of the William Hill Premiership season. The Govan club are expected to confirm a temporary switch to Hampden in the coming days after being hit by delays to renovation work at Ibrox.

Rangers announced last month there would be “an impact on matches at Ibrox” after a delay to material shipments from Asia held up the completion of work on the Copland Road stand. Contingency plans now appear to have been put in place for Premiership games, Champions League qualifiers and possibly Premier Sports Cup ties to be moved across the south side of Glasgow.

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Motherwell are due to play Rangers away on August 10, the second weekend of the league campaign, and manager Stuart Kettlewell is perfectly content to play at the national stadium. “It doesn’t change anything for me at all,” he said. “I’m certainly not sitting here firing shots at anybody because of a situation. Very simply on the given day, we’ll have to play against Rangers. Any time we do, they’re a good side and it’s always a difficult day, it’s always a tough game.

“You’re going to a place that I know very, very well, I played a lot of games there, certainly my days at Queen’s Park. You’re going to one of the best stadiums in the country and what will be a big crowd and all these different factors that are always involved in it. But I don’t really focus on the surroundings too much. I focus on what’s on the pitch. So no excuses from our side of it, no changing our mindset and mentality, but we’ve got a few hurdles to cross before we get to that one.”

Rangers also host Ross County on August 24 – a week after the Premier Sports Cup second round – before their third home league match comes against Hibernian on September 28.

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