Tier­ney form shows Scots are still un­der­val­ued in EPL

Evening Times - - THE LAST WORD - GRAEME McGARRY

EVERY­ONE loves a bar­gain, eh? It may seem per­verse to view a ‘com­mod­ity’ that cost the guts of £25m in such terms, but as Arse­nal and their sup­port­ers start to see the best of Kieran Tier­ney, they are re­al­is­ing that in the rel­a­tive terms of the English Premier League, that is ex­actly what they have got.

The for­mer Celtic left-back has only played a hand­ful of games for the Gun­ners fol­low­ing his move to the Emi­rates last sum­mer, with in­jury cur­tail­ing his im­pact in his first sea­son in the rich­est league of them all.

Since the EPL’s ‘Project Restart’ kicked into gear though, a fully-fit Tier­ney has made a mock­ery of the trans­fer fee it took to prise him away from his boy­hood heroes as he has ram­paged his way into the hearts of the Arse­nal sup­port in trade­mark style.

True, Tier­ney didn’t have his in­jury prob­lems to seek be­fore he left Celtic ei­ther, play­ing through a trou­ble­some her­nia in­jury un­til he could play no more, but the more Tier­ney im­presses for Mikel Arteta’s side, the more it might just grate on Celtic chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Lawwell that there was such a ceil­ing on the price he could at­tract for the home­grown tal­ent. Arse­nal paid £10m more a piece for Granit Xhaka and Shko­dran Mustafi, af­ter all.

De­spite the re­cent suc­cess of play­ers picked up from Scot­tish foot­ball when they have made the move south, there does still ap­pear to be a limit on the price that English clubs are will­ing to pay for our top tal­ent.

Af­ter so many bar­ren years of play­ers from the Scot­tish top flight mak­ing any sort of im­pres­sion on the English equiv­a­lent, the likes of Vir­gil Van Dijk, Andy Robert­son, John McGinn, Stu­art Arm­strong, Billy Gil­mour and now Tier­ney to name but a few are show­ing that they aren’t only com­fort­able in such com­pany, but they can of­ten be among the top per­form­ers week-in, week-out.

Given that strong re­cent track record, it is per­haps no shock to see English clubs tak­ing a se­ri­ous and wel­come look at the Scot­tish mar­ket now, with the only sur­prise be­ing that they still seem re­luc­tant to spend the se­ri­ously big money on play­ers from our top league.

Take the re­cent in­ter­est in Od­sonne Edouard, last sea­son’s player of the year and top scorer. With all due re­spect to Leeds United and Crys­tal Palace, I for one am a lit­tle sur­prised that some of the big­ger pi­ran­has in the EPL tank haven’t been sniff­ing around the out­ra­geously gifted French­man.

As well as be­ing top scorer in Scot­land, he has scored goals in Europe and has cracked in 10 goals in his first five ap­pear­ances for France’s un­der-21 side. Still though, the val­u­a­tion be­ing placed on his head by these English suit­ors re­mains at the glass ceil­ing of £25m.

And what about Al­fredo More­los across the city at Rangers? Yes, he is a player that needs man­aged, and has a lot of ma­tur­ing to do even at 24 now, but when he is on his game – as he was in the first half of last sea­son – he is al­most un­playable.

His goal against Kil­marnock on Box­ing Day was his 28th of the cam­paign in all com­pe­ti­tions to that point, with half of those com­ing in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion. He is a full in­ter­na­tional with Colom­bia, and has shown that if you can keep him fit and fo­cused, he is a nat­u­ral born scorer.

Yet, all the trans­fer talk around More­los this sum­mer is over whether Rangers should cash in their chips for £10m or there­abouts.

Granted, the sec­ond half of the cam­paign was a mas­sive dis­ap­point­ment, with More­los find­ing the net just once af­ter the win­ter break, and that will have ad­versely af­fected the fee Rangers will be able to get for him.

But I have no doubt a fit and fir­ing More­los would guar­an­tee you goals even in the EPL, and is cer­tainly worth the risk at £15m or more.

Man­agers al­ways think they can be the one to straighten a player out, so I would be amazed if there wasn’t some in­ter­est from down south later in this ex­tended trans­fer win­dow.

The prob­lem for Rangers with More­los and in­deed, for Celtic with Edouard, is strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween bring­ing in what might be vi­tal money in the post-Covid mar­ket­place, and not hav­ing their pants pulled down.

A lit­tle fur­ther down the chain, the same prin­ci­ple ap­plies to Mother­well amid the re­ported in­ter­est in David Turn­bull from Stoke City.

Fans of smaller clubs in Scot­land will no doubt have the vi­o­lins out at the thought of a power and re­source im­bal­ance be­tween the Old Firm and clubs in Eng­land these days, but it has been re­fresh­ing to see the likes of Mother­well hold­ing out to get full value for their play­ers where they can in re­cent times.

Prior to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, it may have been eas­ier for these clubs to take that stand and de­mand that the tal­ent in Scot­land is af­forded the same rev­er­ence as play­ers from the lofty heights of say, the English Cham­pi­onship, but these ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances may un­for­tu­nately dic­tate the fees they are will­ing to ac­cept for their top play­ers.

But with Tier­ney et al giv­ing cre­dence to the no­tion that the tran­si­tion from be­ing a top player in Scot­land to be­ing a top player in Eng­land per­haps isn’t as cav­ernous as it was once thought, hope­fully our play­ers will start get­ting the re­spect they de­serve, and the clubs the fees they de­serve ac­cord­ingly.

Hope­fully our play­ers get the fees they de­serve

Kieran Tier­ney is start­ing to show his best form for Arse­nal

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