Matt O'Riley snub for Euro 2024 has Celtic fans fearing he's off but I'm not so sure – Chris Sutton

Celtic's Matt O'Riley
-Credit: (Image: SNS Group)


Celtic fans were already worried Matt O’Riley could be on his way this summer. Now they reckon it’s an absolute certainty he’s off after being snubbed by Denmark for the Euros.

But I’m not so sure. O’Riley’s surprise omission could actually be GOOD news for Celtic. Listen, I understand why supporters fear the worst. When you see the Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand leaving him out of his group for Germany just days after seemingly taking a pop at the standards of Scottish football, it might be natural to assume O’Riley could feel he has to leave to get international recognition.

Yet I don’t quite buy that. Look at the reaction in Denmark. From what I can gather, there’s been a bit of an outcry at the squad. Even Tommy Gravesen has hit out at the head coach for leaving out the midfielder and going for far safer selections. If anything, I’d say Hjulmand is taking more of a gamble by not picking O’Riley. You should always go with the form players and no one can deny O’Riley was bang in form in the final part of the season.

He scored eight goals in his last 10 games, including five in the last four that sealed the Premiership title. Then I look at who Denmark did select. There’s no doubt Christian Eriksen is a legend. He’s been a tremendous player wherever he’s been. But he’s not had a great season at Manchester United. Eriksen only started 12 Premier League games and was subbed off in 10 of them. He only started two games in the Champions League as well and spent the majority of the campaign either on the bench or injured.

He only managed one goal all term – against Nottingham Forest last August. You can understand the Danes wanting someone with his experience but I can’t quite fathom why they wouldn’t want a player with the energy and return that O’Riley has produced over the last 12 months.

It’s not like it’s just been in Scotland either. O’Riley was one of the few Celtic players who didn’t look out of place in the Champions League and that was why Atletico Madrid came calling in January. It must have been bitterly disappointing for him to miss out on Germany. But the question is now, what happens next?

There’s been this assumption he’ll be going but it doesn’t have to be the case. It will depend on his options and how much clubs are willing to pay.

Celtic are financially strong and have no need to let him go on the cheap. Missing out on the Euros could have a knock on effect on his value in the transfer market.

But Celtic don’t need to sell anyway. The fact he’s not in the shop window could be a positive for Brendan Rodgers in all of this.

You see it around every big tournament. Someone comes in and has a couple of good games, and there’s a scramble to sign them for big money.

But who is to say that would have happened with O’Riley. He could have gone there and been on the bench, and being part of it wouldn’t have made any difference.

At least now, from a Celtic point of view, he will get the chance to rest up and away from all the summer headlines. I’m sure there will still be bids but it could have an impact on the level of clubs that come in.

O’Riley seems to have a solid head on his shoulders and won’t just jump at the first opportunity. It will need to be right for him – as well as for Celtic.

If it’s something like £30m, it’s a no brainer for all. But if not, we could see O’Riley deciding to stick around for another season, have another crack at the Champions League and see where it takes him.

Celtic’s Paulo Bernardo
Celtic’s Paulo Bernardo -Credit:PA

Look, there’s every chance he could go, but I just think there’s still a strong possibility he could be around next term. With the uncertainty around O’Riley, I can understand Celtic hedging their bets with Paulo Bernardo.

They could have just hit the button on the buyout clause, which is believed to be around £6m, but I wouldn’t blame them sitting tight to either get him cheaper or see what else is out there. Bernardo is clearly a prospect, but he’s also a bit of a head scratcher.

He took a long time to get fit then had a really good run of form around the new year. He tailed off a bit when Reo Hatate was fit again but then you look at the impact he made in the Scottish Cup Final.

Bernardo has a few rough edges but Rodgers will back himself to polish him up. At the same time, it would be tough on the manager to finally have his favoured midfield three of Callum McGregor, O’Riley and Hatate all firing at the business end of the season and then having to break it up again.

Celtic have to make a better fist of the Champions League next season and to do so they need to strengthen the side – and keep hold of their best players. They shouldn’t be ushering O’Riley to the door as he could stick around and shine on the big stage – while proving his international boss wrong in the process.