Kieran Tierney has been at the centre of one of the biggest transfer sagas in Britain this summer as Celtic continue to rebuff Arsenal’s advances. The Gunners are desperate to add the 22-year-old Scotland international to their ranks, but their bids thus far have been unsatisfactory and the Hoops are playing hardball. They are seemingly fed up of seeing key players leave on the cheap when the market is so inflated, and they are beginning to dig their heels in. If Arsenal want to land the coveted left-back, they will need to stump up the necessary cash.
A few years ago, Celtic eventually caved in and sold star centre-back Virgil Van Dijk to Southampton for £14 million. After two-and-a-half seasons at St Mary’s, he became the world’s most expensive defender when he joined Liverpool for £75 million. There is a sense that Celtic were short-changed for a player that is now the favourite to go on and win the Ballon d’Or this year. Van Dijk is now a Champions League winner and, as this sports spread betting blog explains, he is a key figure in a Reds team that has enjoyed tremendous success lately.
Van Dijk’s transfer to Liverpool totally shifted the transfer market when it comes to defenders. Earlier this summer, Man Utd splashed out £50 million on Crystal Palace’s young right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka. They want to buy Harry Maguire from Leicester, and they have been quoted £80 million. Defenders are not as glamorous as attackers, but they win you trophies, and full-back is an important position. It is no coincidence that Man City won the EPL with a record-breaking point haul immediately after spending £130 million on full-backs.
Anyone that watched Liverpool’s successful Champions League campaign last season could see just how important Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were to the team. They cover a great deal of ground, link defence with attack, whip in crosses, defend heroically and set the tempo of the game. Tierney could certainly be placed in that bracket. He is extremely quick, excellent on the ball and tenacious in the tackle. He has a great eye for a cross and he can pass the ball well, so he would be a great asset for Arsenal or the other teams interested.
Yet nobody is offering £50 million for him and that is because he has thus far plied his trade in Scotland. English clubs have often raided their Scottish counterparts for bargains, as the Van Dijk transfer to Southampton highlighted. Yet the case of Van Dijk also shows that SPL players can easily thrive in the English top flight, and that Celtic should not accept paltry fees for talented players.
Tierney is only 22, but he already has 12 Scotland caps to his name. It is a headache for Steve Clarke, as both Tierney and Robertson are brilliant players and he has to somehow try to fit them both into the same team. They are of a similar level of quality, yet Robertson is worth around £60 million after starring for Liverpool for the past couple of years. Arsenal bid £15 million for Tierney.
That was enough for former Arsenal and Celtic player John Hartson to accuse the Gunners of taking the proverbial. “In this current market £15 million is an embarrassment to the player and his ability,” added the Welshman. Arsenal went back with a second offer of £25 million, but Celtic were unhappy to see it include a number of instalments. That means they would not receive a large lump sum up front, limiting their initial ability to reinvest in quality players to bolster the squad.
Arsenal have failed to qualify for the Champions League for the third season in a row, and that has significantly dented their transfer budget. They are reported to have just £45 million to spend this summer, which is paltry for a Big Six EPL club, but their squad needs a lot of work, so they are trying to stretch it out by tying up deals involving a series of instalment payments. They are in the process of signing William Saliba from Saint-Etienne for £30 million and loaning him back to the Ligue 1 side for the 2019/20 campaign, and that deal involves very little cash up front. Yet Celtic are in a position where they can resist such an offer.
They do not need to sell Tierney, who is one of their best players. Manager Neil Lennon has already said that the 22-year-old left-back is “more rounded” than £50 million man Wan-Bissaka and that he wants to keep him at the club. If Celtic do sell, it should be for a high price that reflects a market in which Maguire is apparently worth £80 million.
Arsenal need a left-back, as Sead Kolasinac cannot defend very well and Nacho Monreal’s powers are waning, while he is often needed at centre-back. Celtic hold the cards here and they can afford to keep playing hardball. It would be great for Hoops fans to see the club go out and make a splash in the transfer market if they do sell Tierney. After all, Chris Sutton was their record signing from 2001 until 2018, when they finally broke it by singing Odsonne Edouard for £9.3 million. They are starting to get better at demanding high fees for players, having sold Moussa Dembele to Lyon for £19.7 million last summer, and they are likely to continue rebuffing Arsenal until a more serious offer comes in.