English Premier League scouts discuss Celtic, David Turnbull and perception of Scottish football

By John McGinley

June 18, 2022

A fascinating article on the perception of Scottish football in England emerged this week, via subscription publication The Athletic.

They asked a variety of probing questions to a panel of anonymous Premier League and Football League scouts, in order to get honest answers without the media appearance impacting their work lives.

The full, lengthy piece is well worth a read – with a couple of answers particularly of interest to Celtic supporters.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

For instance, when asked whether Celtic and Rangers being so dominant means it’s hard to assess whether they’d adapt to English football, one scout told The Athletic: “It’s all about appropriateness. I like David Turnbull as his tactical awareness of how to play against a low block is really good and that is what we need at our club, so doing that every week for Celtic is good for us to assess.

“Calvin Bassey wouldn’t suit us though, as we need to be better on the ball and his athleticism bails him out some of the time, but he’s developed brilliantly (since a summer 2020 move from Leicester City’s academy ranks).”

Another went into the view of Scottish football in general and how it shaped thoughts on Virgil van Dijk back when he was a Bhoy.

The anonymous scout said: “I think we don’t pay enough attention to the Scottish Premiership. There’s some excellent players in there waiting for a chance elsewhere but the reality is they won’t always get it.

“It’s hard to convince managers and sporting directors that they (signings from Scotland) are going to make a Premier League team better. Also, when Sir Alex Ferguson was around, there were a lot more Scottish people involved in the English game. People always had knowledge. There’s not as many now.

“Clubs were afraid to sign Virgil van Dijk from Celtic for a long time, remember. Many weren’t quite sure, because the Scottish league is known to be aggressive and played at a high tempo but with little ability. It’s not the case.”

Harry Kewell joins Celtic as Ange seeks key role for Stephen McManus

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Reading the entire thing gives real insight into what top scouts think of the league, Celtic and players out with the two big Glasgow clubs.

They also discuss the impact of European performances on how people down south perceive player suitability.

Not only that, but the article paints a picture that they are often fighting an uphill battle when it comes to convincing managers that players can make the step up.

Nonetheless, Celtic have done a fine job capitalising on the cash swirling around England in recent years with players such as Van Dijk, Kieran Tierney, Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer all moving on for significant cash.

Many of them have performed well too, which may make the whole process easier for scouts and indeed Celtic moving forward.

Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

If Celtic is seen as an attractive destination to come, develop and move on to the biggest league in the world, I have no issue with that.

Ultimately it’s likely to benefit the club in the short and long-term, while also making us competitive for trophies every single season.

Big sales are unlikely at the Bhoys this summer, with the majority of Ange Postecoglou’s just getting started in Glasgow, but the thoughts of these scouts are worth noting ahead of future transfer windows.

In other news, Report: Vinicius Souza prepared to play long-game on future as Celtic arrange talks.