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  • Writer's pictureGordon Sheach

Oliver McBurnie - Swansea City (CH) to Sheffield United (EPL)

Ah summer, a time for sun, sand, sea and ALL CAPS tweets announcing BREAKING football transfers.

While the saga of the summer (Kieran Tierney to Arsenal) continues to drag on, it's nice to have a confirmed transfer for a current Scotland international to talk about.


What's the deal?

Oliver McBurnie (23) is set to leave Swansea City in the English Championship and join Sheffield United as they prepare for their first season in the English Premier League since 2006-07.

The deal is reported to be worth £17.5m (with add-ons potentially taking the fee to £20m). This will comfortably eclipse the existing record for a Scottish player when Oliver Burke moved from RB Leipzig to West Bromwich Albion for £15m.

This record could of course be incredibly short-lived if Arsenal and Celtic are able to reach agreement for Kieran Tierney before deadline day.

Where has he been?

McBurnie has been with Swansea City since 2015 when he joined from Bradford City in League One.

The first three seasons of McBurnie's time with Swansea were spent between loan spells with Newport County (League Two), Bristol Rovers (League Two) and Barnsley (Championship).

It was that loan spell with Paul Heckinbottom's Barnsley in the 17-18 season where he really started to shine. Joining in January, he scored six goals in his first eight games for the Tykes, winning the Championship Player of the Month for February. He would return to Swansea that summer with 9 goals in 17 games and the club's Player of the Year trophy on his mantlepiece.

He would take that form back to Swansea, having a breakout season in 2018-19. In a team that scored 65 league goals, McBurnie scored 22 & assisted 4 more (a remarkable 40% of Swansea's total).

That goal tally saw him rank alongside Birmingham's Che Adams & West Brom's Jay Rodriguez who have also made moves to EPL clubs this summer.

Where is he going?

McBurnie joins a Sheffield United team that achieved promotion to the EPL by finishing 2nd in the Championship last season, 5 points behind winners Norwich City.

As a player against Sheffield United he has a 100% record with 3 goals in 3 games.

While the step up will be daunting for both player & club, there is some comfort to be found.

For one, McBurnie is joining a side that didn't struggle to score goals last season. Sheffield United scored 78 league goals (1.46/game), making them the 4th highest scorers in the league.

32 year old Billy Sharp (23 goals) & 30 year old David McGoldrick (15 goals) were the highest scorers and it will be up to McBurnie to share the goal-scoring responsibility to ensure Sheffield United can stay in the division.

McBurnie's fellow Scot John Fleck led the team in assists with 10, while the rest of the squad chipped in evenly. Eight players recorded 4 or more assists.

With a career that has shown steady progression up the league's in England, it is hoped that McBurnie can take this final step to the top table of English football in his (famously languid) stride.

Scotland Prospects?

Since making his debut for Scotland in Alex McLeish's first game back as manager against Costa Rica at Hampden, McBurnie has struggled to replicate his blossoming reputation at club level for the National Team.

So far he's collected 4 caps in friendlies, 14 minutes off the bench in the Nation's League defeat in Israel and an hour in the Euro 2020 humbling in Kazakhstan.

This new season will hopefully represent a fresh start for McBurnie at international level with Steve Clarke in charge. If he can hit the ground running in the EPL it would represent a strong case for inclusion in Scotland's massive qualifiers in September.

If he needs any inspiration he should look at Leigh Griffiths' career at international level. He took 12 caps over 5 years before breaking his international duck against England at Hampden and establishing himself as first choice striker when fit.

Any more?

In a world filled with social media content creators, McBurnie manages to stand out a mile with his patter and fascinating fashion style. I'd really recommend following him on Instagram - @oli_mcburnie


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