Why Alistair McCann would be a good long-term signing for Celtic

According to The Courier, Celtic have scouted St. Johnstone midfielder Alistair McCann ahead of a potential transfer swoop in the future. As per the report, the Hoops had scouts in attendance to keep tabs on the 20-year-old during the Saints’ 1-1 draw at home against Motherwell at the weekend. 

Profile

Born in Edinburgh, Alistair McCann started his footballing education at Hutchinson Vale Boys Club before joining St. Johnstone’s youth system in 2012. Having represented the Saints at U-20 and reserve levels, the midfielder made his senior professional debut back in January 2018.

McCann spent the remainder of the 2018-19 season on loan at Stranraer in Scottish League One before establishing himself as a first-team regular at McDiarmid Park. He emerged as one of the most impressive breakout stars in the Scottish Premiership last term, registering 4 goals and 2 assists in 29 league appearances for St. Johnstone. 

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND – NOVEMBER 18: Alistair McCann of Northern Ireland shoots as Ionut Nedelcearu of Romania looks on during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Northern Ireland and Romania at Windsor Park on November 18, 2020, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. A limited number of spectators (1060) will be in attendance as Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are eased in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The Northern Irishman has gone from strength to strength this term, consolidating his status as a regular starter in Perth. McCann has amassed a goal and 2 assists in 15 appearances for St. Johnstone so far in the ongoing campaign, with his sparkling form attracting interest from reigning champions Celtic. 

McCann recently caught the eye for Northern Ireland in an international double-header in the UEFA Nations League, making his debut against Austria before delivering a man-of-the-match performance in the 1-1 draw against Romania. 

Celtic would benefit from signing Alistair McCann

Celtic aren’t really short of depth and cover in the middle of the park, especially after the acquisition of highly-rated prospect David Turnbull in the summer window. Neil Lennon presently has accomplished stars like Ryan Christie, Olivier Ntcham, Callum McGregor, Scott Brown and Tom Rogic competing for places in midfield. 

That being said, bringing in reinforcements in that department need not be a top priority for the Hoops in January. However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the reigning champions to base their recruitment with one eye on the future. And Alistair McCann ticks the box as an exciting young player with the potential to evolve into one of the mainstays of Celtic’s midfield in the coming seasons. 

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Austria’s midfielder Marcel Sabitzer (L) and Northern Ireland’s midfielder Alistair McCann vie for the ball during the UEFA Nations League football match Austria v Northern Ireland on November 15, 2020, in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

The 20-year-old central midfielder has already made significant strides in his development at St. Johnstone, featuring as a regular starter in the Scottish top-flight over the past 18 months. That clearly suggests he’s ready to make the step up to a bigger club moving forward.

With Brown nearing his twilight at 35 and Ismaila Soro yet to make an impression, the door remains open for someone like McCann to shine at Parkhead.

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Verdict

Alistair McCann is hardly the finished article at 20 and is only going to get better with time. The midfielder’s senior international debut for Northern Ireland clearly underlines the kind of progress he has made in recent times. With that in mind, Celtic raiding St. Johnstone for the youngster would definitely hand a massive boost to their long-term plans moving forward.

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