Mehdi Ghayedi to Celtic: The Iranian wonderkid, assist king, trademark move, long-term contract

Iran’s young player of the year Mehdi Ghayedi has apparently attracted a bid from Celtic to take the playmaker to Parkhead.

Reports in Iran link Ange Postecoglou with a move for the player, little known in Scotland, prompting a quick-fire research cramming session by the Celtic support.

Here, we look at what we know so far about the rumoured 23-year-old ...

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Who is he?

Esteghlal's forward Mehdi Ghaedi celebrates a goal in AFC Champions League group stage before his $2m move to Dubai. (Photo by MUSTAFA ABUMUNES/AFP via Getty Images)

Mehdi Ghayedi is an Iranian footballer, currently playing in the United Arab Emirates with Shabab Al-Ahli. He is 23 years old and plays as an attacker, either on the left wing or through the middle off a striker, or in an attacking midfield role.

What’s Ghayedi’s playing background?

At 23 he doesn’t have too sizeable a football CV however, what entries there are, are noteworthy.

He spent last season in his homeland’s Persian Gulf Pro League, and topped the assist charts across the Iranian top flight by laying on seven goals for his team-mates at Esteghlal.

Ghayedi (R) attempts a shot with his right-foot, though predominantly plays on the left or through the middle. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

The team finished third, but his performances were enough to earn a move to Dubai where he now turns out for Shabab Al Ahli – his $2m deal is reported to be the largest in Persian Pro League history.

Not only a record-breaker, halfway through last season he was crowned young player of the year in the Asian Football Confederation for 2020.

He made his international debut for Iran in a friendly win over Uzbekhistan in October 2020 and scored on his second appearance, a late second as substitute in a 2-0 win over Bosnia.

Since then he has played another six times, scoring his second international goals and, for one of the top creators in last season’s Iranian league, predictably laid on another in a 10-0 win over Cambodia last June.

Mehdei Ghaedi in action during the derby match between Esteghlal vs Persepolis at Azadi Stadium on May 14, 2021 in Tehran, Iran. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)

What sort of player is he?

Although Ghayedi plays often on the left, he is right-footed and cuts in from the wing for his shooting opportunities – usually from a central position where he often plays too.

At 5ft 5in he is not the tallest, but his creativity and constant movement has taken advantage of stretched defences for many of his goals in Iran.

Why are Celtic said to be interested?

In December Ange Postecoglou admitted he was scouring some of the less frequented leagues for some undiscovered talents – or those unnoticed in Europe. Already the Celtic manager has drafted in four players from the J-League but listed locations like Korea, Australia and Iran as other markets he could tap into and would be happy if he was treading new ground.

"If you look at all the big leagues around the world, you’ll see Asian players,” he said. “Not just from Japan but from Korea, from Australia, from Iran. There are some very good footballers on that side of the world. But if people don’t want to look there, I’m happy to be the only one.”

Ghayedi’s statistics stand out amongst his Iranian peers and his age and playing profile would be a fit – he has attracted attention after playing at the Asian Champions League level and his international credentials would also be beneficial. However he is only six months into a five-year deal signed in UAE after his Iranian record move when AEK Athens and other clubs in Qatar were also credited with an interest.

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