Tierney form shows Scots are still undervalued in EPL
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