What transfer window activity means for Scottish clubs

Ryan Christie signed on transfer deadline day for Celtic from Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Ryan Christie signed on transfer deadline day for Celtic from Inverness Caledonian Thistle

The final hours of the transfer window in Scotland lacked drama and extravagance - but they are not necessarily desired qualities.

Clubs wait until the end of the window to drive prices up or down or to see what options become available but the bulk of the recruitment work is carried out earlier in the summer.

Celtic were the exceptions in this regard, through circumstance. Aberdeen, on the other hand, did no business on the final day.

Other themes emerged, in particular the number of loan deals since that market can provide solace for clubs that do not have the budgetary strength to commit to longer-term deals or can use temporary transfers to sign players of greater quality than they could afford in the open market.

Now that the window has closed, an assessment can be made of the business carried out and what that says of the current state of Scottish football.

Celtic continue to dominate

By most measures, the Scottish Premiership champions remain the most prominent of Scottish clubs.

In terms of fees, Celtic were out in front, banking at least £15m from the sales of Virgil van Dijk and Adam Matthews - the figures for the departures of Teemu Pukki and Dylan McGeouch were undisclosed - although Rangers did spend money on James Tavernier, Martyn Waghorn and Jason Holt.

Virgil van Dijk (left) moved south of the border while Dedryck Boyata moved north from Manchester City
Virgil van Dijk (left) moved south of the border while Dedryck Boyata moved north from Manchester City

The departure of Van Dijk to Southampton was widely anticipated, but the wait until after Celtic's Champions League fate was decided forced the club to wait to conclude the rest of its business.

The signings of Tyler Blackett on loan from Manchester United and Jozo Simunovic from Dimano Zagreb provide defensive options, while the departure of Stefan Scepovic to Getafe on loan removes the presence of a player who never seemed wholly convinced that he was in the right place at the right time.

Nonetheless, the volume of business at Celtic Park has not removed the sense that the team is still a work in progress.

Scott Allan and Ryan Christie are young and still developing, while the striker options are light. Dedryck Boyata, Simunovic and Blackett are less developed and experienced than Van Dijk, and the same can be said of Saidy Janko compared to Adam Matthews, who he replaced as the second-choice right-back at the club.

Celtic have signed a group of players who have much progress to make.

Planning counts

The Premiership table is illustrative of the worth of planning. Aberdeen and Hearts sit second and third, respectively, and both clubs moved swiftly and decisively during the early stages of the transfer window.

One of the most significant signings of the summer was Aberdeen's capture of Graeme Shinnie on a free transfer from Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Yet Derek McInnes also signed Paul Quinn, who was the captain of Ross County, while adding young talent from England in the shape of goalkeeper Danny Ward, who has joined on loan from Liverpool.

Hearts were similarly shrewd, since they upgraded their defensive options with the signings of Blazej Augustyn,Igor Rossi Branco and Juwon Oshaniwa.

Kenny McLean (left) and Graeme Shinnie both made the move to Aberdeen this year
Kenny McLean (left) and Graeme Shinnie both made the move to Aberdeen this year

Craig Levein and Robbie Nielson also added to the attacking strength of the team with the signing of Juanma Delgado and Gavin Reilly.

Neither Aberdeen nor Hearts signed anybody on the final day, a sign of their contentment with the work already carried out, although Hearts will continue to assess the available free agents to see if more versatility can be added to the squad.

Turnover is inevitable

Seven of the top-flight clubs signed eight or more players this summer. That kind of recruitment can be destabilising, but the nature of the finances of Scottish football make it inevitable.

Clubs seldom commit to long-term contracts anymore, which means free agents abound and the turnover of players is more pronounced.

The busiest clubs were, unsurprisingly, those that struggled last season. Kilmarnock, Ross County and Motherwell all signed 10 players as their respective managers tried to prevent another fraught experience this term.

Assimilating the new players can take time, but context is significant.

Dundee, for instance, also signed 10 players, but they were joining a team that was more confident and settled, and so the likes of Kane Hemmings,Rory Loy,Nick Ross,Kevin Holt and Julen Extabeguren were bringing additional quality to the squad.

James Tavernier is one of the many Rangers recruits over summer
James Tavernier is one of the many Rangers recruits over summer

In the Scottish Championship, Rangers were among the busiest clubs with 11 first-team players arriving and 15 leaving.

Teething problems will always have to be overcome but the presence of new manager Mark Warburton and the sense of a new era beginning have contributed to a flawless start to the campaign so far, with Rangers joining Aberdeen as the only Scottish club to still have a 100% league record.

Intrigue is still possible

High-profile and expensive signings no longer tend to be part of the Scottish football landscape but interesting deals can still be struck.

Along with the wonder of how Allan and Christie will develop at Celtic, the most pressing question from the summer centres on Islam Feruz.

The forward was once considered the most exciting prospect in Scottish football when he in the youth set-up at Celtic.

The manner of his departure for Chelsea and his failure to make anything of a series of subsequent loan spells have contributed to the fear of potential unfulfilled.

By joining Hibs on loan, Feruz has left us wondering again: What kind of talent will he turn out to be?

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