McKenna, Dykes, Turnbull: A Positive Change In Scottish Transfers
It's never an easy day for a club when a beloved and key player departs the club, leaving a gaping hole behind and pressure to strengthen the now vacated position. Within Scotland, this is a constant occurrence as the brightest talents within the league are often snapped up, whether that be to bigger clubs in the same league, down the road to England or in some cases, further abroad.
The main issue that plagues most of these departures is the lack of reward for the teams who have developed these players in order for them to make that next jump in their career. For many years, Scottish clubs have fallen victim to players contracts running down and eventually moving on for free transfers. In recent years, Aberdeen have parted ways with Kenny McLean (Norwich), Graeme Shinnie (Derby County), Gary Mackay-Steven (New York City), Ryan Jack (Rangers) and Niall McGinn (Gwangju), all key first-team players. The combined fee for these 5 players; £200k.
Livingston had a similar issue following their successful first season back in the top flight, with the Lions defensive duo Craig Halkett (Hearts) and Declan Gallagher (Motherwell) leaving for free whilst goalkeeper Liam Kelly left to join QPR for a very low £50k. £50k for a defensive unit that was the 4th best defence that season is a sickenly low amount. Motherwell were one of the teams who capitalised on Livi's misery but also have come across similar issues, losing Jake Hastie and Chris Cadden following their contracts expiry.
Of course, football is a business and these kinds of transfers will always happen. As football grows richer and richer in certain parts of the world, Scottish clubs are always going to continue to struggle the match the wage demands offered, particularly from down south. It would be foolish to expect otherwise and at the same time, we're not the only victims of this style of business as Scottish clubs certainly expose this from other divisions.
However, the 2020/21 summer transfer window has brought a nice change of pace for some Scottish clubs this season, with three clubs record transfer sales taking place this transfer window. Scott McKenna left Aberdeen following 119 appearances for the club for a reported £3million that could rise to around £6million to join English Championship club Nottingham Forest, overtaking the £2million sale of Eoin Jess in 1996. McKenna will be facing up against Scotland teammate Lyndon Dykes, who also moved to the second division of English football to join Queens Park Rangers. Dykes replaced Livi legend David Fernandez as the West Lothian club's record transfer sale for over £1million, with the possibility of the fee rising to £2million dependent on bonuses. David Turnbull also finally made his long awaited move to Celtic, replacing Phil O'Donnell as record sale, a transfer that also involved a Motherwell player heading to Celtic some 26 years ago.
Teams from Scotland have constantly seen their players be undervalued, with only Celtic in recent years truly getting decent value for players, and even at that you can argue they were underpriced. As the English Premier League sees teams consistently spend 10's of millions on unproven, overhyped primadonnas, there is no reason as to why Scottish teams should continue letting players go on the cheap. It's going to be hard for Scottish teams to bargain multi million deals but when you consider a player such as Ollie Watkins has just moved for £33million from the English Championship - a deal worth £8million more than Kieran Tierney's move to Arsenal - then there's no reason teams like Aberdeen and Motherwell should hold out for adequate prices for their star players.
Time will tell as to whether these good dealings will continue within Scotland, with a host of young talents likely to be the next players constantly linked with moves to "bigger" clubs. Aberdeen's Lewis Ferguson and Hibernian's Ryan Porteous both have contracts taking them to 2024 and 2023 respectively, meaning if anyone wants to take the highly rated youngsters, they will have to pay a fee. Even Celtic and Rangers will be looking to stand strong over their key assets, with no less than £15million surely looking reasonable for the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Alfredo Morelos and Callum McGregor.
It is especially vital now that our league is rewarded for the development of its best players. Money in football is ridiculous and our side's need to capitalise on this by not shorthanding themselves and accepting way below standard fees. The virus has led to teams having to take cuts within their finances but with three of our sides coming out with record sales despite the current climate, this is highly encouraging for the future. Of course, this isn't always going to be possible but each side now seems to hold a stronger bargaining power and should continue to hold out for better value.