Why Celtic have struck gold with a new deal for Mikey Johnston
The 20-year-old already had several years remaining on his previous deal that he signed towards the end of 2018 but the Hoops have moved quickly to reward him with fresh terms, with Johnston now pledging his long-term future to his boyhood club.
Johnston missed over two months of action earlier this season due to a groin injury but he has played a part in five out of Celtic’s last seven games.
The highly-rated academy graduate has only played a bit-part role under Neil Lennon this term but has still managed to chip in with 6 goals and 5 assists in 18 appearances across all competitions.
Born in Glasgow, Johnston joined Celtic’s youth system as a kid way back in 2008 and spent almost a decade in the academy, coming through various age-group levels before making his senior professional bow for the Hoops against St. Johnston towards the fag end of the 2016-17 campaign.
The Scottish starlet made only 3 appearances for the Hoops in the following campaign but went on to bag 5 goals in 23 outings during the 2018-19 season, largely featuring as a substitute under former manager Brendan Rodgers.
Johnston, who started in the most recent Old Firm derby defeat against Rangers on Sunday, has continued to excel in his role as an impact substitute at Parkhead under Lennon.
The talented academy graduate has often found regular minutes hard to come by due to the presence of more accomplished players Mohamed Elyounoussi, James Forrest and Ryan Christie in the ranks, but Johnston has come away with credit whenever he has been called upon by the manager to do a job for his team.
The 20-year-old is yet to make his senior international debut for Scotland but he has already made his mark at U-19 and U-21 levels, earning rave reviews for his development.
To put things into perspective, it is easy to see why Celtic have, indeed, struck gold with a new deal for Mikey Johnston, who seems to have the talent and the potential to take the club to greater heights in the years to come.
Despite playing a bit-part role in the squad, the starlet’s overall tally of 11 goals and 7 assists in 45 senior appearances for Celtic is a clear reflection of his ability to make a positive impact, and Johnston is only going to get better with time as his career wears on.
Johnston might only be a squad player in the ongoing campaign but he will presumably play a more substantial role moving forward as he continues to develop into a top-quality winger capable of tormenting defences with his pace and technical abilites.
The youngster is still very much in his formative years as a professional and has a long way to go but there have been obvious signs to suggest that Johnston could be the next big thing at Parkhead.
The likes of Callum McGregor and James Forrest have established themselves as two of the mainstays of the club’s playing eleven since coming through the youth system and Johnston has the potential to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
Both McGregor and Forrest put pen to paper on fresh terms earlier in the campaign along with goalkeeper Scott Bain and the 20-year-old has now become the latest Celtic player to commit his long-term future at Parkhead.
The Hoops roped in the likes of Luca Connell, Jonathan Afolabi, Jeremie Frimpong and Lee’ OConnor as promising prospects this past summer, and it has been evident from Lennon’s trust in his abilities that Johnston is very much a part of the club’s long-term plans.
Celtic lost highly-rated academy teenager Liam Morrison to Bayern Munich earlier in the year and Johnston’s new deal should go a long way towards helping the club shield their up and coming wing wizard from foreign interest.
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Suffice to say, a new deal for Mikey Johnston makes perfect sense for a number of reasons and this looks like a shrewd piece of business that could pay off handsomely for the reigning Scottish champions in the years to come.