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Celtic midfielder Matt O’Riley admits he found it tough to deal with transfer speculation earlier this year.

O’Riley was the subject of a failed bid by Atletico Madrid during the transfer window.

Speaking after being named on the PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year shortlist, the 23-year-old said of his season so far: “It has been eventful. It has been really fun. I have learned a lot.

“Naturally, when you are doing well there is a lot of noise around you. I have had to manage things on and off the pitch and that has made me grow a lot as a person.”

Celtic v Atletico Madrid
O’Riley impressed Atletico Madrid during the Champions League (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The biggest noise came in January when Celtic confirmed they had rejected an offer from the Spanish side.

“It was tough at first,” O’Riley said of dealing with the speculation. “It was something new.

“I am sure if something like that happened in the future I would be able to manage it better. I don’t think I managed it badly, it is just that something like that has never happened to me before.

“It is naturally there at the back of your mind and the first few games were tough. I addressed it off the pitch with my friend who I speak with and I have got back on track.”

O’Riley is Celtic’s top league goalscorer this season with 13 and tops the Premiership assist charts with 11. With the likes of Reo Hatate missing large chunks of the season through injury, O’Riley has had to handle the expectation levels that come with his record.

“That is another thing I have had to deal with to be fair,” he said. “I don’t think I need to put any pressure on myself and, when I do, all it takes is one fall to add that bit of pressure on yourself.

“That is something I have tried to really manage and over the course of the season I have dealt with it better and better.

“We have enough good players and it is not like the whole world is resting on my shoulders and they are depending on me.

“I need to put that responsibility on my shoulders and I feel a sense of responsibility to help the team in every game I can and that’s what I try to do every time I am on the pitch.”

O’Riley has learned to limit the outside analysis.

“I genuinely don’t read social media,” he said. “I have done so in the past.

“I have learnt from my mistakes not to do that because it is not good for you. That’s been part of my learning curve and experience.

“This season I only really use social media when I need to post something. The rest of the time I don’t look at it because it is a much healthier approach.

“Naturally, there is always going to be someone saying something. If I could give advice to any footballer it would be not to look at social media. Just use it in the right way because it doesn’t help.”