Canada defender Johnston heading to Scottish champion Celtic

CF Montreal and Canadian national defender Alistair Johnston is heading to the Scottish Premier League.

The Montreal MLS club confirmed the rumours that were circulating last week that Celtic FC was interested in the 24-year-old. CF Montreal said in a news release that the transfer will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

“I want to thank Alistair, the man, for his professionalism and his mentality in everything he has done with the Club, but also the player, who has brought us a lot on and off the pitch, for Montreal and the national team,” said CF Montreal vice president Olivier Renard. “He’s an example of the way we want a player to evolve once he joins our team; with clear ideas, while giving everything for the team. When an opportunity with a big club such as Celtic arises, we listen to our player.”

The deal is reportedly worth around three million pounds (C$4.97 million), of which Johnston gets 10 per cent, according to the Glasgow Daily Record.

Johnston joined Montreal in 2021 from Nashville SC. He secured his place as one of the top defenders in the league last season, scoring four goals and assisting on five in 33 regular-season games and two playoff games for CF Montreal.

The versatile defender/wingback was the starting right back for Canada at all three of the national team’s games at the FIFA World Cup.

“Montreal welcomed me into its family from day one and helped me reach new levels that I didn’t even know I was capable of,” said Johnston in the CF Montreal news release. “I was lucky enough to come into a group with great leadership and talent, and most importantly, great people. Although it was only one season together, it was an unforgettable one.”

Johnston is joining the reigning SPL champions. “The Bhoys” have won 52 Scottish league championships, including 10 of the past 11. 

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou praised Johnston’s character and ability saying the team was looking at him for a while.

“He’s someone we identified pretty early on, somebody who we think can add to our club,” he said. “He’s had an interesting career path where he’s had to work really hard to get where he’s at and we’re really happy to conclude the deal… He’ll be a great fit in our dressing room, and will definitely add something to our football.”

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