Scouting Spotlight: Kieran Tierney, Julian Brandt, David Selke
Scouting Spotlight looks at a Celtic defender targeted by Man United and two young Germans who could be on the move to England.
Kieran Tierney -- Celtic
Regarded as one of the best left-backs in Britain by Brendan Rodgers -- along with Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand, whom the Celtic manager worked with earlier in his career -- sources told ESPN FC that Tierney has emerged as a target for Manchester United this summer as Jose Mourinho looks to solve his problem position by buying a replacement for Luke Shaw.
A speedy full-back who likes to support the attack, Tierney's driving runs down the wing help to open up the pitch in the final third. He is always an option on the overlap, possessing quick feet to beat his opponent and deliver dangerous low crosses into the box.
The 20-year-old is a tenacious defender, harrying attackers into losing the ball and pouncing on loose passes. His positioning sense is sound, judging the right opportunities to break forward after winning back possession.
Tierney's leadership qualities have also been noted, with the youngster captaining Celtic on several occasions. "He's got an incredible determination, an old-school determination," said Rodgers last year. "He lives his life right, he doesn't drink or do stupid things. He's in every day training like a dog."
With a host of young player awards already on the mantelpiece, Tierney is set to claim a third successive Scottish Premiership title with Celtic.
The left-back has clocked up 55 appearances for club and country this season, including six starts in the Champions League as Celtic competed in a tough group alongside Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich.
That experience will stand Tierney in good stead for his next move, while he has also chipped in with the occasional goal, scoring a 40-yard screamer against Kilmarnock back in August.
Where would he fit in?
Given the similarities to Shaw in his style of play, at first it may appear a curious move for Man United to pursue Tierney. But Mourinho's main bone of contention with Shaw appears to be his attitude rather than his ability, leading to Tierney emerging as a possible successor.
Manchester City have also expressed an interest in the Scotland international, and Celtic are likely to command a significant fee for the left-back after he signed a new six-year contract only six months ago. Reports of a £10m fee seem underpriced.
Julian Brandt -- Bayer Leverkusen
With a wealth of experience in the Bundesliga and Champions League, Brandt's maturity belies his 21 years. He has enjoyed another impressive season at Bayer Leverkusen, with a place in the Germany squad for the World Cup still a possibility.
Like many talented German prospects, Brandt is capable of fulfilling a number of roles in midfield and attack. His versatility is an advantage for Leverkusen, but the youngster's technical ability and burst of acceleration usually sees him deployed on either flank.
At first Brandt doesn't look like a typical winger, standing at over 6 foot tall, but he possesses all the attributes to develop into a world star.
The 21-year-old's biggest strength is his superb first touch, instantly manipulating the ball to deceive defenders, before using his speed to drive past them. While pace and power play a key role in Brandt's game, there is also subtlety in his control and ability to play precision passes.
Unlike many players his age, he demonstrates great awareness, utilising space and spotting his teammates' runs to spearhead attacking moves.
With 11 strikes in all competitions, Brandt is enjoying his best season in front of goal for Leverkusen to help Heiko Herrlich's side close in on a return to the Champions League.
Leverkusen were battered 6-2 by Bayern Munich in Tuesday's DFB-Pokal semifinal, but their league campaign remained on track at the weekend with a 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Brandt placed a fine header into the corner to open the scoring, and played a key role in his team's third goal on a bruising afternoon for Eintracht boss Niko Kovac, who last week was confirmed as Bayern manager for next season.
With only three assists in the Bundesliga, Brandt will be aiming to improve his tally, but his quality was evident once again when he scored a delicate winner away to former club Wolfsburg last month.
Where would he fit in?
Brandt signed a new contract with Leverkusen at the start of April, but that is unlikely to deter the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Barcelona from pursuing him. Jurgen Klopp is known to be a huge fan of the attacking midfielder as the Liverpool boss looks to reinvest the £142m received for Philippe Coutinho.
Davie Selke -- Hertha Berlin
With a fine record for Germany's youth teams, including nine goals in 15 matches for the under-21s, Selke is now looking to kick on in the Bundesliga after joining Hertha Berlin from RB Leipzig last summer.
Despite his 6-foot-4 frame, Selke is more of a penalty-box poacher than target man. He uses his long limbs to hold off defenders and retain possession, but prefers the ball at his feet to providing knock-downs for teammates.
A composed finisher, the 23-year-old is adept at finding space in the box. Three of his 11 goals this season have been headers, but only one has been via an aerial duel at a set-piece, with Selke often drifting away from his marker to get on the end of crosses in open play.
He demonstrates good link-up play with his back to goal, knocking one-touch passes into midfield before darting towards the penalty area.
After helping to fire Leipzig to the Bundesliga in 2015-16, the striker struggled in the top flight last term and was sold to Hertha in the summer.
His chances of an immediate impact were dashed by an ankle injury, but Selke returned with nine goals in his first 16 games -- including a brace against his former club as Hertha defeated Leipzig 3-2 despite being reduced to 10 men in the seventh minute.
A recent 10-game goal drought underlined why Selke is yet to establish himself as a centre-forward option for Germany, but he showcased his finishing ability once more with an impressive brace in a 2-1 win over Cologne at the weekend.
Where would he fit in?
Stoke were linked with a move in January and Selke would prove a convincing successor to Peter Crouch in the Potters' attack if they stay in the Premier League.
As Leicester, Swansea and Everton continue to track his progress, it seems a move to England could certainly be on the cards for the forward in the future.
Matthew Stanger covers European football for ESPN and is the editor of The Set Pieces. Twitter: @MatthewStanger