Dane Murray: Celtic’s mega talent in waiting?


The defensive line at Celtic has had a tendency to house some of the very best in Europe in years gone by.

Parkhead has been a home for the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Kieran Tierney before their mega moves across the border while more recently, Norwegian Bhoy Kristoffer Ajer played in the green and white hoops.

He arrived in Scotland as a plucky 17-year-old but left last summer as a stalwart and titan of the Premiership.

Few could pass the ball out from defence like he could, nor could they maraud forward in such eye-catching fashion.

Yet, as with van Dijk and Tierney, the Premier League came calling as he departed for Brentford in a deal worth £13.5m.

As the centre-back entered the final year of his deal at Celtic, it was cut-price for someone who the Hoops valued at closer to £20m back in 2020.

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It was still a good deal and indeed, with Ange Postecoglou replacing him via Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt, there have rarely been any problems.

Celtic sit top of the SPFL, have won the League Cup and are in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, an accomplishment they owe greatly to their defensive pairing for.

However, there will always be a lingering afterthought; who could be the next Ajer in Paradise?

Well, Dane Murray is likely a good place to start.

The 18-year-old savoured his first taste of senior football this season and it came in the Champions League no less, as he played against Midtjylland. Speaking after he caught the eye in that outing, Postecoglou said: “Coming on to the pitch, a young guy who was born in 2003. I can remember 2003 very clearly.

“You know how young he is and he is not just coming on the pitch, he is facing a formidable opponent and with 10 men. But you know what? My gut instinct told me he wouldn’t be fazed by it.

“I watched him in training and he is a young kid, not just with football potential, but personality and character that belies his age. I was quite happy to trust him out there and it was an important part of the game, we were down to 10 men and we had to work very hard.”

Like Ajer, Murray’s attitude is clearly an impressive aspect of his game but he hasn’t been trusted too often to play since that moment.

He has featured just three times all season but you sense it’s only a matter of time before the teenager breaks through for good.

Similarly to his former Norwegian teammate, he is comfortable in possession of the ball, completing 87% of his passes against Midtjylland. He also won 100% of his aerial duels and prevailed in 50% of his ground duels, appearing wise beyond his years.

Described as “remarkable” by his coach at U10s level, Martin Miller, he has clearly come a long way since then, so much so that he could become the club’s next mega-money talent. Watch this space.

AND in other news, Ange is starting to unearth Celtic’s new Stuart Armstrong in “silky” £405k-rated gem…





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