Celtic has a long history of “buying Scottish.” I like it. I have no problem with it.
They say Scotland doesn’t produce really good players anymore. I’ll tell you what, we produce very decent ones.
I watch them play in England every week; guys like Scott Arfield at Burnley. Like Johnny Russell at Derby. Like James McCarthy. Like Steven Fletcher, who’s made one heck of a name for himself since the transfer window when Celtic didn’t think he was worth the money. Some (myself included) still say that failure probably cost us a league title.
A lot of fans think Celtic’s ambition should stretch further than these shores, and it should.
That doesn’t mean that what’s on offer here is simply to be ignored, especially when Scott Brown, our captain, was once considered (by some) to be a waste of £4.5 million.
With that in mind, I wanna take a look at the prospects who are out there … the guys who could do a job in the Hoops with a little time and nurturing.
Ryan Jack is a young, aggressive defensive midfielder in the Lennon role, who, at 22, has made over 130 appearances in the red shirt of Aberdeen.
He’s also been capped at every level but the senior team for Scotland, and he’s one of the lynchpins of the current team.
He would be cheaper than some mystery man from abroad, and with nurturing who knows? A kid with the potential this guy has won’t be at the Dons forever …
Ask Hearts fans about what they think of this kid, and you’ll hear praise that raises the roof.
Jamie Walker is 21, but he’s already had a genuine baptism of fire. A product of the Hearts youth system, he was out on loan to Raith Rovers for a while, but came back when his home clubs need was most acute in the wake of their financial troubles. He quickly made himself indispensible to the team, and he has played for Hearts some 60 times now.
Next season, he’ll be strutting his stuff in the SPL, which is certainly going to require that he raises his game. But if he does … what then?
Someone, somewhere, will take a punt on this kid. Has he got what it takes to play in the Hoops? The path from Hearts to Celtic is a well-worn one … and we’ve not done too badly with it over the years.
At the risk of this turning into a Dundee Utd love-a-thon from here on in, I really like John Souttar.
The young central defender – just 18 by the way – has already played over 30 games for the senior squad and looks like a top prospect. It won’t be long before he adds to his 8 caps for Scotland’s Under 19’s and becomes quite the regular in their back line. As he continues to develop it’s a matter of time before he plays for the full national team.
John has already sparked the interest of clubs in England. Utd are in the fortunate position of not having to sell though, so this boy may be hanging around Scotland for a while yet.
The question is … could he make it at the country’s biggest club?
Chris Johnson at Kilmarnock isn’t as well known as some of the Dundee Utd players, but he has bags of talent and time is on his side.
He’s an attacking midfielder, and although not blessed with great pace he can pass a ball very well and he is highly rated inside and outside Rugby Park.
With 50 appearances for Killie, at just 20, he’s another of the kids to play in the Scotland under 20 ranks … and he’s impressed people there.
Like Souttar, and Walker, he’s more a rough diamond than someone like Jack, but there’s something there alright …
Could he shift it to a higher level? One day he will. It just depends where that’ll be.
I like Ryan Dow. It’s hard not to like a kid who came into the team to replace a player as good as Ryan Gauld, and nailed the spot down.
Dow is a hard working striker / midfielder / wide man who can get in amongst it and contribute goals and assists. He’s 23, with nearly 70 Dundee Utd first team appearances to his name, most of them in the last couple of years.
If he is, at present, one of the “lesser known” Dundee Utd standouts, this isn’t going to last. He’s got bags of ability and could really make a splash.
But could he play for Celtic?
Stuart Armstrong needs no introduction to anyone in Scottish football. He’s 22, has over 100 appearances for United and 20 caps for the Under 21’s at international level.
He is, quite simply, the Next Big Thing, and the parallels with Scott Brown’s time at Hibs are obvious, right down to the position they play in, and the fact he’s now captain of the Scotland Under 21 setup.
Dundee Utd, blessed as they are at this moment with money and no need to sell, have slapped a £3 million price tag on this kid … but that’s no more a risk than it was when we paid £4.5 million for Scott back in the day.
The rumours linking him to Celtic Park have been flying about for a while now.
He is certainly going to land a top move, at some stage soon.
He could very well be like McArthur and Fletcher … the one who got away … or, in the fullness of time, step into the shoes of Brown himself.
He has it all. Except the jersey.
Come on Lawwell … give us a late Christmas present. Sign the next club captain.