Chelsea have been linked with signing Celtic starlet Michael Johnston. talkSPORT take a look at the 18-year-old attacker…
Full name: Michael Johnston
Date of birth: 19 April 1999 (age 18)
Position: Attacking midfield
Team: Celtic (0 apps/0 goals)
National team: Scotland Under-19s (4 apps/0 goals)
Who is he?
Michael Johnston is an 18-year-old attacking midfielder who currently plays for Celtic. Having progressed through the Bhoys’ academy system, he has been playing for both their Under-19 and Under-20 teams this season, scoring two goals in seven UEFA Youth League matches. He has also been capped four times for Scotland Under-19s since making his debut in March 24.
What they say:
Celtic Under-20s head coach Tommy McIntyre, after Johnston’s dazzling display in the Scottish Youth Cup final win over Rangers: “He’s got a lot of talent. As long as he listens to the coaching staff and obviously the manager, we’re hoping he’ll at least progress [to the first-team].”
A pacy and tricky attacking player, Johnston has proven himself an impressive winger at youth level. His performances have caught the eye of manager Brendan Rodgers, who has suggested he could make his first-team debut before the end of the season.
He has a natural ability with the ball at his feet, and beats opposing players with ease. He shows off various flicks and touches at youth level which will likely not come off in senior football – but there is no doubting his confidence in himself.
His goal against Rangers in the 2016 City of Glasgow Cup final showed off many of his best traits; despite falling over when receiving a cross, he kept possession and turned to beat two defenders, before jinking past a third and firing a powerful strike in at the far post.
Areas to improve:
Despite his excellence with the ball at his feet when beating players, Johnston’s final ball and decision-making need work. He often finds himself in good positions only to waste possession, either by failing to find a teammate with a cross or shooting at goal when a pass would be wiser. Such improvement comes with game time and experience in the senior game.
Being a classic, nimble attacker, it is no surprise Johnston is slightly built. This could negatively impact him on the senior stage, but he has played above age levels for a number of years now, and has developed in a youth league known for its physicality. It remains to be seen whether he can step up to senior football without needing to bulk up.