Scottish Football Free Agents: Who Each Premiership Club Should Be Looking At
With the Scottish Football Leagues being officially called to a close due to the Coronavirus, each team is now able to prepare for the upcoming season. With a planned date of August 1st set for the return of league action, teams will be planning right now on how to get back on track for the 2020/21 season. As is with the end of any season, players contracts have come to an end and for various roles, players will be available to move on through free transfers. In the top flight 8 teams (Motherwell, Hamilton, St Johnstone, Hibs, Ross County, Rangers, Kilmarnock and Dundee United) have announced full lists of those departing, whilst Celtic have announced the departure of two first-team players. Alongside this negotiations continue with players whose contracts are set to expire who clubs want to keep but could easily be tempted by others, especially those currently in the lower leagues. As this is happening, many teams will have their eyes out on such available players and perhaps be working behind the scenes to secure some of these players. With that in mind, I have looked at the - so far confirmed, though murmurs of league reconstruction are failing to disappear - 12 Scottish Premiership Clubs, and what free agent they should be looking to sign from their league competitors for next season.
Aberdeen - Jonny Hayes
The first entry of this list is quite an obvious one. As Jonny Hayes contract and tenure at Celtic comes to an end, there isn't a team who could need him more than his former side Aberdeen. Despite finishing fourth, it wasn't a great season for the Dons who really seem to be lacking in attacking quality, relying mainly on the goals from Sam Cosgrove and creativity from Niall McGinn. The Dons were the lowest scorers in the top 5 this season and although the addition of Matty Kennedy has helped a little, Hayes would make an even bigger difference on either flank. The goal drought of Cosgrove hindered Aberdeen massively last season and showed how the Dons can't rely on a single player to get them into the top 3, as has been shown in the last two seasons. With plenty of tenacity and pace, Hayes would be a welcome addition back at Pittodrie.
Celtic - Stephen O'Donnell
It has come as a surprise to many that O'Donnell has decided to move on from Kilmarnock and due to this, there is heavy speculation as to where he will end up. In all honesty, I really don't think he would be a bad choice for Celtic, rotating alongside the impressive Jeremie Frimpong. With the number of games Celtic will be playing next season, squad depth is a must and with the young Frimpong still learning his craft, he can learn from the prime O'Donnell. With Celtic letting go of Simunovic, this signing would also allow for the returning Hatem Abd Elhamed to be able to play at Centre-Back too. O'Donnell wouldn't be an electrifying signing, but surely a solid one coming in at quite a bargain.
Dundee United - Ricki Lamie
After being awarded the Scottish Championship title as they sat 14 points clear before the virus, Dundee United will be making their long-awaited return to the Premiership. Thankfully, they had no playoffs to worry about this time and got started on preparing for the next season right away. With this, they've let go of some players, leaving spaces to be filled up. I feel that Ricki Lamie would be an excellent acquisition for Dundee United, filling in on the left side defensively after the Arabs released Paul Watson. You couldn't blame Lamie for looking for more game time, and with the Lions defensive options, he may have to move in order to do so. United will be looking to strengthen up for the upcoming campaign, and with Lamie gaining some valuable experience in the league, he would be a great signing.
Hamilton - Paul Watson
I think Watson is extremely unlucky to find himself released by United just as they are about to reach the Premiership. A solid defender, Watson could certainly help out a leaky defence and on a free transfer, is the kind of player that teams like Hamilton should be taking a look at. Hamilton always have a knack of getting that extra something out of players throughout the duration of a season and could get good value out of signing a pure defender like Watson.
Hibs - Richard Tait
It's safe to say that Hibs suffered a lot from defensive issues last season, with injuries and mistakes costing them dearly. Hibs conceded 49 goals last season, only Hearts, Ross County and Hamilton conceding more with the latter only sitting one goal behind. If Hibs are looking to secure a top 6 finish next season, a lot of work is to be done on their defensive work. With Steven Whittaker leaving, another full-back is needed and with Motherwell's recent departures, there is a perfect player to fit in at Easter Road. Richard Tait has been an incredibly solid player and is a surprise to see him leave Motherwell. He is the exact kind of defender and leader that Hibs need right now and should do everything they can to try and ensure Tait is playing in Leith next season.
Kilmarnock - Marcus Fraser
With right-back regular Stephen O'Donnell on his way out, Kilmarnock will be on the lookout for a replacement and luckily, they could get a more than solid replacement from the Highlands. Ross County Captain Marcus Fraser remains in talks with the Staggies but could be tempted away by a team further up the table, and more central within the country. On a free transfer, this would be a superb piece of business that other teams floating around mid-table should be taking an interest in. At only 25 and some useful experience under his belt already, Fraser would provide leadership in a backline alongside consistent performances week in and out.
Livingston - Nicky Cadden
Livingston acted very preemptively by allowing Nicky Cadden to leave last summer but has certainly done wonders for his career. Rejuvenated at Morton and very much the main man, Cadden has thrived and seemingly matured with more intelligence to his game. Cadden undoubtedly has the quality and needed to be playing games to get to where he is now. He was unfortunate at Livingston due to the nature of the 3-5-2 formation that was prominent in the Lions first season back in the top flight and the defensive work may have been too much at the time for the left-footed winger. With the current uncertainty regarding Steven Lawless' future at The Tony Macaroni Arena, Cadeen would be a more than welcome addition should the Lions try to convince him to return to the club. With more goals to his game, Cadden would play off Dykes tremendously, whilst adding deadly pace to the Livingston attack.
Motherwell - Aaron McGowan
The release of Richard Tait by Motherwell has come as quite a shock due to how consistent he has been at the Fir Park side. A popular figure, he'll be one who is hard to replace. Regarding his replacement, though, Motherwell should look local, to their neighbours Hamilton and Aaron McGowan. A young right back with still a lot to learn, Stephen Robinson could definitely mould McGowan into a solid player who has already shown promise whilst at Hamilton. I'm sure the Motherwell fans would take pride in gloating the acquisition over their local rivals.
Rangers - Václav Hladký
I am a huge admirer of Hladky, with the Czech goalkeeper being my pick for a goalkeeper in the 2019/20 Team of the Season. He is dependable and can do a job when called upon which is showcased by his impressive stats. With Wes Foderingham departing Ibrox and Robby McCrorie likely to be loaned out once again, Rangers will need a quality backup in case of emergency and to contend with Allan McGregor. Hladky is the perfect option for Rangers, with the 30-year-old looking for a bigger payday and would surely find the lure of being at one of Britain's biggest clubs hard to turn down. He would be a worthy challenger to the number 1 position and as McGregor comes closer to 40, would not be a bad option to bring in when needed.
Ross County - Carl Tremarco
Defensive issues have been a main plague for a lot of teams this season and that applies most to Ross County. Conceding 60 goals in an average of two a game, whilst only scoring an average of less than one is unsustainable and County have been lucky to not be properly caught in a relegation battle this season. Current Inverness captain Carl Tremarco's deal runs out at the end of the season and although at 34, would provide some stability. Being able to fit in at left or centre back, Tremarco would be a solid signing to help steady the ship and bring in necessary experience. It'll be hard for County to attract players to the Highlands but with Tremarco already spending considerable time up north, he may be convinced by one last crack at playing in the top flight.
St Johnstone - Jordan White
Jordan White really should have been playing in the top flight by now. A success wherever he's played in Scotland, White is a nuisance with great skill and a knack of finding the back of the net. St Johnstone were the second-lowest scorers in the league last season, only managing 28 in 29 games. Clearly, they need some firepower to partner Callum Hendry, in both scoring and assisting. White's height makes him a threat from set-pieces but also has great talent on the ball that sometimes goes unrecognised due to his size. On a free transfer, the Saints probably won't find better value for their money and should league reconstruction fall through, the temptation of finally playing Premiership football may be enough to tempt White.
St Mirren - Alex Gogic
There are a few clubs Alex Gogic could end up at as the highly regarded Cypriot looks to move on from Hamilton next season. St Mirren already boast a pretty decent defence, but a talent such as Gogic is one they'd be silly to pass upon. As he's versatile, he could add some more grit to Jim Goodwin's midfield, protecting that backline. Gogic has been highly praised by opposition fans and a move to St Mirren may not seem like a massive jump up, but would arguably increase his wages whilst playing in a better team to showcase his abilities.
There's a long way to go until the season starts and many of these players futures will be decided soon enough. One thing is for sure is that we're all hoping for a safe return to Scottish Football and that our teams, players, officials etc from top to bottom come out of this as unscathed as possible. Remember to keep safe during this time and help out your club in any way you can during this time of need is possible. Hopefully, when safe to do so, Scottish Football will return and bring us unmatched entertainment, both on and off the pitch. Thank you for giving my post a read, I hope it's been enjoyable and I'll see you in the next one!