League One side Milton Keynes Dons have completed the signing of former Fulham midfielder Matt O’Riley. The 20-year-old left the Cottagers last summer and has been training with Russell Martin’s side since.
As an out-of-contract U24 player, Fulham are due a compensation fee, and a settlement between the two clubs has been agreed.
MK Dons Sign Former Fulham Midfielder Matt O’Riley
#MKDons have completed the signing of former Fulham midfielder Matt O’Riley ✍️
— MK Dons (@MKDonsFC) January 24, 2021
What Was Said?
O’Riley told the club website: “I’ve been here training with the boys for six months now and I’ve loved every minute.
“I haven’t played a game in quite a while but I have been training here for quite a while so I’m feeling sharp and ready to go. Hopefully I can get some minutes soon and start making an impact.
“I’m very excited to get going, especially in this team. This is my ideal style of football and I hope to come in and bring goals and assists and be as creative as possible.”
Dons boss Martin added: “Matt has been training with us for a long time now but we all recognised, very quickly, what a gifted footballer he is and why he’s been wanted by some big clubs over the last few years.
“He’s come to a point in his career where he just wants to play football, but he’s also been willing to wait and hold out for a move here, which is an incredible statement of intent.
“It’s going to be a brilliant and important signing for us. He’s certainly one for the long term but he can also help us in the short term because he’s been training with us and understands how we want to play.”
Despite not having much senior experience, O’Riley has been highly sought-after in previous years while in the youth ranks at Fulham.
In 2017, as a 16-year-old, he became the club’s youngest ever scorer at U23 level, and he made his debut for the Cottagers in a 2-0 EFL cup win against Wycombe Wanderers in the same year.
Last summer, O’Riley rejected a new three-year deal with the first team amid interest from the Championship as well as clubs in the Netherlands and Belgium.
For O’Riley to have still been without a club going into January is a surprise, and it’s perhaps even more so that it was a mid-table League One club that eventually secured his signature.
He has previously been scouted by some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool and Manchester City.