Why Matt O’Riley would be a good Leicester signing

Steve Cooper’s Leicester City are on the march in the transfer market. They are in critical need of reinforcements ahead of their return to the Premier League, and one such player could be Matt O’Riley.
Celtic FC v Heart of Midlothian - Cinch Scottish Premiership
Celtic FC v Heart of Midlothian - Cinch Scottish Premiership / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

The King Power side have already announced the signings of Bobby De-Cordova Reid and Michael Golding. However, there remains much work to do in the transfer market, with defence and attacking midfield the target positions for starters. Cooper has targeted Matt O’Riley as the replacement for Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

The England born Danish midfielder plays for former Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers at Celtic in the Scottish Premiership, so can certainly translate his style of play well to the Premier League. Nevertheless, the talent has much to give the English club, and that is the purpose of this piece.

What Leicester City need to know about Matt O’Riley

Well, let us be a little basic: 37 games started, 18 goals scored, and 13 assists attained. That is 31 goal contributions from the Danish midfielder in a single season. Those are exceptional statistics, and of course underline the kind of player O’Riley is, and where in Cooper’s team he would fit in.

Further, observing his heatmap across the course of the Scottish league, we see O’Riley offers a similar box-to-box creative presence at ’KDH’, although more focused on progression and penetration than the empassioned defensive performances offered by the new Chelsea midfielder. Again, an obvious benefit to Leicester City in replacing such a critical player with a ready-made talent who would link up well with Abdul Fatawu on the right, while supporting Harry Winks in the middle.

Stylistically, there is less data available to illustrate what the player would offer the King Power club. However, we can see some things and we can also see some of it from the heatmap and basic stats: an attacking midfielder that likes to come deep to collect the ball, dribbles it into an attacking position, then either lays it off for a forward or just takes a shot himself. SmarterScout does show O’Riley enjoys dribbling with the ball to retain possession, ensure progression, and often finds himself in the box ready to take a shot on goal.

Therefore, it is clear to see Matt O’Riley would be a brilliant addition to Leicester, as well as the perfect fit for our midfield. I suppose the situation relies on what happens with Wilfred Ndidi as well, with little news on movement for Boubakary Soumare. Personally, if the Nigerian midfielder does not sign a new deal, then a midfield trio of Winks, Soumare, and O’Riley would retain an efficient technical balance while offering better passing versus what we would have with Ndidi.

It is expected Celtic would want a record fee of around £25m to sign the talent. This would entirely eat up the KDH deal alongside the signing of Golding, so I would hope either another sale would unlock greater funds without too many losses for the defensive signing(s) we ought to be in for.