Middlesbrough are battling Celtic for the signature of Charlotte FC midfielder Riley McGree, sources have told 90min.
The Australia international was signed by the MLS expansion side – who are currently preparing for their inaugural season – in October 2020 from Adelaide United.
Since then, he’s spent time on loan at Birmingham City, impressing across his 30 appearances for the Blues with three goals and two assists.
McGree recently departed Birmingham following the expiration of his loan and it was thought he would head straight to North Carolina to join Charlotte’s preparations for the 2022 MLS campaign.
But 90min can confirm that Scottish giants Celtic have lodged a bid just short of $4m for McGree, as first reported by the Daily Mail. Sources have also revealed that Middlesbrough have held talks with Charlotte for the 23-year-old, while Birmingham retain a keen interest in bringing him back to St Andrews. Nottingham Forest are also monitoring the situation.
Celtic still appear to be in pole position to sign McGree, but the midfielder’s experience in the Championship might tempt him to return for a second spell in England.
“It’s sadly come to an end, but it has been a bit of a whirlwind and a good adventure and one that I have good memories from,” McGree said of his time with Birmingham.
“England is where you want to come and play. To be able to get the opportunity in the Championship and to come to Birmingham, I took it and wanted to get here.”
On the prospect of McGree staying with Birmingham, manager Lee Bowyer said in December: “All I can tell you is what I have said before, Craig [Gardner] has been banging that drum, trying to make that happen – that Riley stays.
“I know Riley loves it here, he loves training, you see him every day with a smile on his face, he is learning every day and improving as a player.”