Scottish champions Celtic are keen to sign Middlesbrough midfielder Paddy McNair, it has been reported.
Celtic boss Neil Lennon has confirmed that the Hoops are keeping close tabs on McNair. The Scottish side will have to compete with Sheffield United, who are also monitoring McNair as per the Scottish Sun.
McNair is expected to leave the Riverside Stadium, having failed to get into the Boro team consistently last season.
Celtic have already signed defender Christopher Jullien, and are looking to further strengthen their squad with McNair, who can also play in midfield.
Paddy McNair: Profile
A Manchester United academy graduate, McNair made his debut for the Red Devils in 2014 under the tutelage of Louis van Gaal.
However, the defender couldn’t cement his place in their senior side owing to the competition for places, and was eventually signed by Sunderland in the summer of 2016.
McNair’s time at the Stadium of Light was blighted by injuries and he hence struggled to impress for the Black Cats. Last summer, he switched to Middlesbrough, but was in and out of the side.
Lately, McNair has been in impressive form for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, putting in commendable displays against Estonia and Belarus.
What will McNair add to Celtic?
Versatility is perhaps one of McNair’s strongest suits. He can operate as a defensive midfielder, thereby offering cover for Scott Brown, or even as a central defender.
The 24-year-old is excellent with his forward runs and tracks back well. If he is used as a centre-half, his ability to bring the ball out of defence would serve the team well in their build-up play.
McNair isn’t the strongest when it comes to aerial duels, however, and that might be an issue against teams who play a direct style against the Hoops.
The former Manchester United defender’s prime years are ahead of him and he is expected to develop further in the coming years.
The Bhoys are preparing a bid of £5 million for McNair, and he would be a pretty decent acquisition for that fee.
McNair was, however, pictured with a Rangers scarf outside Ibrox last year, and that irked quite a few Celtic fans. It remains to be seen how the Hoops’ fans will react if the club do sign him and he puts on the Celtic jersey.