Is Scottish football heading in the right direction?

Scottish Professional Football-League

Thankfully Scottish football has yet to be tainted by the simply ridiculous transfer fees for players, but is the country heading in the right direction?

The summer transfer window has been nothing short of mayhem, but fortunately Scottish clubs simply don’t have the funds to carry out these crazy transactions, where the record currently stands at a mere £4.5m for Oliver Ntcham’s switch from Manchester City to Celtic. The Scots do however seemingly have their own problems with the transfer window where, rather than overpriced players coming in, it is under-priced players leaving.

It is of course extremely difficult to hold on to a player who has enormous potential, especially when there are countless clubs willing to pay for such a player. The transfers of both Jason Cummings and Barrie McKay to Nottingham Forest epitomise this unfortunate situation, where Hibs received just £1m for the former and Rangers received a measly £500k for the latter. This obviously isn’t a large amount of money compared to the billions spent in the English Premier League so far, yet to these Scottish clubs it is a chance to rebuild and replace these players as soon as possible.

The unfortunate thing is that these clubs may struggle to replace these important players, with Celtic’s signature of Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes highlighting that even the top Scottish clubs must be aware of fellow Scottish Premiership clubs signing their best talent. Aberdeen have strengthened with the arrival of Celtic’s Gary Mackay-Steven, Greg Tansey of Inverness and the loan signing of the talented Ryan Christie, yet the loss of Hayes, Peter Pawlett (to another English side, MK Dons) and certainly the popular Niall McGinn brings more worry than it does promise.

There is however another major problem negatively affecting Scottish football, and looking through this summer’s ins and outs, it is becoming more and more evident. This issue is the fact that after losing promising and emerging talent to teams south of the border, Scottish clubs have turned to players approaching the end of their careers as replacements. After losing the likes of Cummings and McKay, Calum Paterson to Cardiff and Liam Lindsay to Barnsley, Scottish clubs have brought in the likes of Kari Arnason (Aberdeen), Graham Dorrans (Rangers), Steven Whittaker (Hibs), Christophe Berra (Hearts) and Kirk Broadfoot (Kilmarnock), all of whom who are over the age of 30.

Finally, and even more worrying, loyalty seems well and truly dead in the modern game, highlighted by this transfer window more so than others. Billy McKay’s switch from relegated Inverness to fierce rivals Ross County stands out, with the club losing last season’s top scorer Liam Boyce to yet another English outfit in Burton Albion, while former Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack’s move to Rangers certainly won’t be a popular one.

There are of course promising signs that prevail over all this negativity, with Hamilton’s signature of former Liverpool youngster Ryan Fulton of note, while Dundee’s new forward Sofien Moussa has banged in five goals in his first three games, including a 21-minute hat-trick against Cowdenbeath in the League Cup. With the hugely talented Patrick Roberts back at parent club Manchester City, here’s hoping Moussa Dembele stays at Celtic to keep the youthful and lethal talent in Scottish football.

More importantly, if sides like Aberdeen and Hearts are aiming for the top three but are failing to bring in talented youth players, they have however brought in the likes of Nicky Maynard and Kyle Lafferty respectively. These forwards undoubtedly have a lot to offer and, although not on the same level as Celtic’s Scott Sinclair, they can hopefully get their once-promising careers back on track north of the border. They have been given a chance to start again, a fresh start, one which they shouldn’t waste or their time as a professional footballer could well and truly be forgotten. Thankfully Lafferty has hit the ground running with four goals in three games for his new side, and so hopefully Maynard can follow suit as Celtic quite possibly have another easy task ahead of them as they search for their seventh successive league title.