Transfer Crystal Ball – Summer 2020
Since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down World football in mid-March, there have been no end of headlines off the pitch as leagues wrangle with debates over ending their seasons or attempting to play out their seasons on the pitch when safe to do so.
Without getting caught up in that argument, we’re going to look a little further into the future and turn our attention to next season, 2020/21. Scotland’s eagerly anticipated (and sold-out) EURO 2020 Playoff Semi-Final against Israel has yet to be rescheduled, hopefully this will happen when it is deemed safe for the Tartan Army to descend upon on Hampden Park and make it a special atmosphere.
By that time, domestic leagues will surely have kicked off for the new season, a summer transfer window will have come and gone with many Scottish players having ‘upped sticks’ and moved to pastures new.
This article will look at Scotland National Team players who could be coveted by other clubs and others who are coming out of contract and may be weighing up exciting options.
Having moved to Bournemouth back in 2013 when they were in EFL League One, Ryan has enjoyed playing his role in two promotions with the Cherries, blossoming into a fully-fledged Scotland international since his breakthrough at the Premier League side.
The rundown of his contract and rejection of new offers means it is likely Ryan will be moving away from the south coast of England.
Since last summer speculation has followed Fraser of interest from North London giants Arsenal and Tottenham. Recent reporting from the Athletic has poured cold water on a move of that calibre, with Crystal Palace, Everton, Newcastle United and Watford among clubs believed to be in pole position for the speedy winger’s signature. Fraser would likely arrive at those clubs as a key player, hopefully helping him rediscover his form from the 18/19 season only Eden Hazard provided more assists in the EPL.
In January he admitted that transfer speculation last summer affected his form at the start of the season. If a move could help him rediscover his best form in the English Premier League, it will be an exciting prospect for Scotland going forward.
After the conclusion of the 2019/20 season, it has been confirmed that Stephen will leave Kilmarnock on the expiry of his contract after three successful years with the Ayrshire club.
Having played under Scotland gaffer Steve Clarke at Killie, O’Donnell has earned 11 caps for Scotland and the 28-year-old will be aiming to add a few more international appearances to this tally.
As a free agent it is likely he will have many potential suitors, and it will be interesting to see whether he opts to stay in Scotland or make a move south of the border once again. As one of Scotland’s few specialist options at right back, it should be of great interest where Stephen is playing his football next season and how much game time his is getting.
After the early conclusion of the season, without league reconstruction being agreed, it is likely Hearts will be playing their football in the Championship next season after suffering the dreaded drop from the Premiership.
During a forgettable season, one of the only positives for Hearts was the development of 17-year-old left back Aaron Hickey. The youngster made his debut at 16-years-old for Hearts last season and has received plaudits from far and wide for his performances since.
He has more than held his own in the Scottish Premiership and he wouldn’t be short of options if he were to leave the Tynecastle this summer. Among the clubs which have been noted to show interest in the talented left-back are Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Chelsea, A.C. Milan, Lazio and Bayern Munich. The German giants have recent history of raiding Scottish clubs to add to their ranks of youth prospects, having snatched centre half Liam Morrison from Celtic.
Media outlets have also reported that they are interested in returning to Celtic for another Scotland youngster Barry Hepburn, so it could be foreseeable that they would test Heart to see what it would take for them to part with their most prized asset. The list of clubs interested is understandably longer than the clubs mentioned above, with other EPL clubs’ interests having been noted. Celtic have allegedly joined the list of clubs showing interest, the club where Hickey started out before moving to Hearts.
If Hickey chooses to move on, he will be faced with a dilemma. He has benefited hugely from game-time and first team experience at Hearts and he will have to make the decision to pick somewhere he will quickly get game time, like Celtic, Rangers, or English Championship clubs should they have the finances to make such a move (Celtic would probably be able to sign him at a discounted price due to the fact that they are entitled to 30% of any fee Hearts receive for Hickey), or, should he sacrifice game-time to fight it out and develop in the highly competitive environment of an academy in a top European club, a move which has paid off massively for Billy Gilmour.
Like teammate Hickey, Souttar is a player with his best years yet to come at only 23-years-old.
Having been hampered severely by injury during recent seasons, Souttar has struggled to build up momentum in his development, but his ability is still undeniable. He has collected 3 caps for Scotland so far although many of the Scotland faithful would have hoped he would have had many more to his name by now.
A solid centre half pairing is something which has eluded the Scotland setup for some time, and the prospect of the likes of Souttar building a partnership with someone like Scott McKenna who he was paired with often in the u21’s would certainly be something for fans to get their hopes up about.
Personally, I feel it would be wise for Souttar to seek game-time in the top flight in Scotland as to take the step down with Hearts would be underwhelming for his development and also his prospects of receiving call up for Scotland in the future. A fully fit John Souttar would be an asset to any club in Scotland, so it will be interesting to see where he will be playing his football next term.
What a year this man has had. After seamlessly managing the transition from the top flight of Scottish football with Hibs to the English Championship with Aston Villa, John played a crucial role in their promotion via the playoffs to the English Premier League, scoring the clinching goal in the Playoff Final.
He took this step up in his stride and impressed massively for Villa during what has been a difficult return to the English topflight for them. Before his injury which side-lined him just before the turn of the year, John had notched his first goal for Scotland, and followed it up with six more to take his international tally to 7 goals. He has since recovered and has returned to training with Villa and played in a closed door match against local rivals WBA, so is ready to be called upon once again when the season resumes, with Villa again finding themselves fighting to avoid relegation.
Should they fail to avoid the drop, it is foreseeable that Villa’s most prize assets will be potentially up for grabs, with Grealish and Mings likely to be two who could accompany McGinn in the “shop window”. McGinn would comfortably fit into many sides who finish higher in the table in the EPL.
Everton are a side who have lacked a bit of grit in recent years and this is something McGinn provides, with his physicality and dig which comes even when he is in an attacking role. With Ancelotti at the helm it would be a tasty prospect McGinn being managed by a gaffer with such a wealth of experience and success at even the highest levels.
Newcastle are another club where McGinn is likely to have potential admirers, as their current manager Steve Bruce was the man who initially brought McGinn to Villa. Should their takeover go through, it is possible they would have the finance available to lure McGinn to the north east along with others as they aim to build a side which would be highly competitive.
When it comes to transfers, Oli is no stranger. Still a youngster at 23-years-old, the Kirkcaldy born attacker has found himself at seven clubs already, playing in four different countries and has scored goals in the Scottish Premiership, the English Championship, the Bundesliga and La Liga, as well as on the international stage.
Settling down has been an issue for Oli, with Nottingham Forrest the only club where he managed to put together more than 30 appearances. Currently on loan at Deportivo Alaves he has resumed training and management have been happy with how fit he has been looking. Once his loan expires, he will be due to return to WBA in the English Championship (or Premier League should they get promoted) although there seems to be a lack of warmth in the fans attitudes towards him.
Burke still has massive potential and finding a club where he fits in and can settle down will be massive for his development, which has stalled in recent years. There hasn’t been much in the rumour mill concerning Burke, however he is a player I will be keeping a keen eye on as the transfer window plays out. He can be a massive player for Scotland, and it should interest the Tartan Army if strong and pace winger manages to find a club and can continue his run on consistent game time which he has been getting in La Liga at Alaves.
After moving from Hamilton Accies to the granite city to play his football at Pittodrie, this Scotland u21 regular is another who’s movements should be of interest to Scotland fans. At only 20-years-old he has made an impressive number of appearances for the Dons and has proven his worth to manager Derek McInnes, becoming a regular in the starting line-up, contributing goals and assists from his midfield role. His performances this season also see him join Hickey in the shortlist for Scottish Football Writers’ Young Player of the Year.
It has been acknowledged that if he keeps developing at the rate he currently is it won’t be long before Steve Clarke will make the addition of such a versatile midfielder to bolster his squad.
Like teammate McKenna, Ferguson has caught the eye of clubs north and south of the border and this summer could signal time for him to move on. Rangers and Brentford are the two who have expressed a significant level of interest in acquiring the services of the young midfielder for next season, but game-time should be a massive factor in the decision to where he goes.
Unless you are familiar with the Scotland u21’s, I wouldn’t blame you for not recognising this name. Fraser has yet to be capped for Scotland above u21’s but has made a name for himself down in the youth ranks. Good pals with Billy Gilmour who he often room shares with while on u21 duty, Hornby has racked up 6 goals in 13 caps, including a memorable double against the Dutch in a 2-1 win, one of which was from just inside the opponents half.
Having come through the ranks at Everton he has had limited opportunities at the Merseyside club, one of his few appearances was his debut for the Toffees in their Europa League campaign against Apollon Limassol. Having spent the second half of last season on loan in Belgium at Kortrijk, he looks set to be moving on from Everton for good this summer and setting sail for the continent once again.
Reports by L’Equipe on Hornby’s movements say a deal has been made which will see him play Ligue 1 football next season, with Stade de Reims set to tie him down having acquired his services for €2m. This is a move which would hopefully see Hornby continue getting the game time he saw in Belgium and build up his first team experiences.
As an individual who has shown a keen eye for goal in the u21’s for Scotland the Tartan Army should keep an eye on how the Scot does in France if the move goes through, as if he continues to develop and is able to make the jump to the men’s team then it would give Scotland another striking option from one of the top leagues in Europe.