When West Ham completed the signing of 18-year-old striker Sean Maguire in 2013, the chairman of his former club, Waterford, did not hold back in his praise for the talented teenager.
"I'm a great fan of Lionel Messi at Barcelona. When I look at Seanie, he really reminds me of him," John O’Sullivan told the BBC.
And while Maguire may have a fair way to go before he can match the exploits of Barcelona’s number 10, he spent Tuesday evening enhancing his reputation at new club Preston North End while Messi ran Juventus ragged in the Champions League.
The 23-year-old’s strike in Preston’s 3-0 thrashing of top of the table Cardiff City was his second in the space of three days. He also produced a match-winning assist in the 1-0 win against Reading last month while picking up three Man of the Match awards to boot, via WhoScored.
Suddenly, it’s becoming very clear indeed why Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers felt Maguire had enough talent to grace the Scottish champions. The Scottish Sun claimed in April that Celtic, as well as former club West Ham, were keeping tabs on Maguire as he scored for fun at Cork City.
In total, Maguire scored 52 goals in 68 games for Cork after failing to make the grade at West Ham and he has continued that purple patch in his first few appearances at Preston. And Rodgers, a manager renowned for his ability to identify talent, may have spotted another gem in the Republic of Ireland Under-23 international.
Unfortunately, Maguire is likely to cost more than the £130,000 Preston paid for his services (The Sun) if Celtic decide to renew their interest in the future.