English Premier League legend and former Celtic hero Kenny Dalglish doesn’t believe our biggest stars need to move south to perform for Scotland.
It’s generally accepted that Parkhead can be used as a stepping stone to England’s top division. The likes of Victor Wanyama, Virgil Van Dijk, Stuart Armstrong, and Fraser Forster are some of the big names to have made the transition from Paradise to Premier League over the last six years.
Since the summer, Scotland regulars James Forrest (The Times) and Callum McGregor (Daily Mail) have been linked with moves to England. Celtic fans know that if the price is right, everyone is up for sale at our club.
But Dalglish has claimed that Neil Lennon’s men are playing at a high enough level for our top players to justify staying in Glasgow, particularly those who want to perform for Scotland. Speaking in the Evening Times, here’s what he had to say:
“Celtic don’t play at a lower level (than the Premier League). Rangers play at a high level. Not every player has the aspiration to go and play in England.
“Some are happy to play in Scotland. They have as good a chance of doing well at either Celtic or Rangers than they would have down south.
“I don’t know why whenever anyone does well they want to sell them. It doesn’t matter to Stevie (Clarke) where they are playing.”
Celtic players are more than good enough for Scotland
Dalglish himself was another to make the switch back in 1977. He left Celtic to join Liverpool for a then British Record of £400k (Evening Times). He’s spent a total of 25 years working as both a player and manager in England’s top flight. In other words – he knows what he’s talking about.
And he’s spot on to say that our Scottish players can operate just fine in the national team whilst at Celtic. Nobody, for example, can say that McGregor, Forrest, and Ryan Christie don’t hold their own when they play for Clarke’s side.
Leigh Griffiths also became Scotland’s number one striker under Gordon Strachan. Despite the fact the likes of Oliver McBurnie and Steven Fletcher play down south, you can still argue a fully-fit Griff is a better player.
Easier to keep domestic talent happy
It’s easier for the likes of Forrest, McGregor, and Ryan Christie to stay happy in Glasgow for the long-term anyway. Scottish talent will know how lucky they are to be playing for the Hoops. Keeping them happy for longer will generally be an easier task than it would be to keep young foreign talent pleased.
Of course, players will want to better themselves. Kieran Tierney’s £25m move to Arsenal proves that not all Scottish talent can be persuaded to stay by the lure of Celtic alone (BBC). Armstrong is another to fall into that category.
But Scottish Celtic players have a track record of performing well for their country. In terms of being an international success with Clarke’s side, Dalglish is correct to say a move south isn’t a necessity.
However, player development and a willingness to test themselves will always make it difficult to keep our top stars, regardless of nationality.