Scottish Premiership champions Celtic signed two young Americans in the January transfer window, Manny Perez and Andrew Gutman.

Manny Perez has told American Soccer Now that Celtic first made contact with him two years ago after belatedly joining the Scottish Premiership champions on deadline day.

The 19-year-old defender sealed his move to Celtic on January 31 alongside compatriot Andrew Gutman, signing a three-and-a-half year contract before returning to the US with a loan move to North Carolina FC.

Perez, who represented his country at U20 level, is very highly rated across the Atlantic was recently announced as the Player of the Year in the USA Soccer Development academy.

And, speaking to American Soccer Now, he has now opened up on Celtic’s interest and admits that Brendan Rodgers’ side have been following his progress since the summer of 2017.

“It all started when I was with the U18 national team,” Perez said.

“We had a couple of camps in Spain and Portugal and Germany. Then two summers ago that is when Celtic first reached out to me. They saw me in Spain. I did really well and we just kept in communication.

“It was a long process. There was a lot to think about and I am thankful for the opportunity Celtic has given me. Overall, I think it was the right move.”

Perez is a right-back by trade and he could be seen as a long-term replacement for Mikael Lustig, whose trophy-laden spell at Celtic could come to an end this summer when his contract expires. The experienced Swede has been tipped to return to his homeland.

Celtic signed another right-back in January too, Jeremy Toljan arriving on loan from Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund until the end of the season.

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