Scottish talent back in fashion
All of a sudden it's fashionable to shop in Scotland again.
The game north of the border has taken a real battering in recent years and undoubtedly the league bosses face a daunting rebuilding task. But there might just be a small ray of light at the end of a very dark tunnel which could well give clubs hope for a brighter future.
The domestic SPL market has once again become an attractive place to source new talent as cheap is once again classed as chic. Even clubs on the continent and in England now need to justify their spending as the economic recession continues to bite.
Italian giants Fiorentina, German side Kaiserslautern and Russia's Kuban Krasnodar are all closely monitoring the talent in Scotland as they looked to unearth bargain buys.
Sharp shooters Kenny Miller of Rangers, Dundee United's David Goodwillie and Adam Rooney of Inverness Caley Thistle are the three men in demand. Miller, who has had an impressive season, seems certain to leave Ibrox in the January transfer window with Alex McLeish also keen on a reunion with his former striker at Birmingham, although he faces tough competition from the Italians.
Goodwillie's fate hangs on Miller's shoulders. Rangers are tracking the 21-year-old, but any move hinges on whether they'll be able to generate money this month from player sales.
Rooney, who has impressed in the Highlands since moving from Stoke for just £50,000, is already the subject of a £100,000 bid from Kuban Krasnodar. Inverness Caley are reported to have rejected the opening offer but, like Miller, it seems Rooney's days in Scotland are numbered.
Miller, who has defied convention before by playing for both Rangers and Celtic, had been tipped to return to England with the Blues when the news first broke. It would hardly be a surprise if he still decided on that option as he would beat a familiar path down south trodden by many before him.
Miller would be comforted by the fact he'd again be working under Big Eck, be greeted by fellow Scots in the St Andrew's dressing room and play in a league he'll know only too well. However, the simple fact the former Hibs man seems quite interested at the prospect of a new life in Italy is an encouraging sign.
As for Goodwillie, there's no doubt his stock is rising, and quickly, but he has time on his side so could opt to put any potential move on ice. Rooney, at 22, could be forgiven for fearing what might be on offer in Russia, but one thing is for sure: if the Dubliner were to follow in the significant steps of Aiden McGeady and Garry O'Connor, he'd be set up for life financially.
It might seem like a daunting prospect for all three to consider a move abroad but one former SPL striker is urging them to grab the chance to broaden their horizons. Robbie Winters had never even imagined pursuing a career outside of Scotland until SK Brann came calling. "I certainly didn't plan on going abroad at any stage in my career," Winters said. "When I left Aberdeen nearly nine years ago, the money crashed out of football and clubs were struggling to sign players so it was a difficult time. Then I managed to find myself a wonderful club when I went over to Norway. At first I thought I might stay for one or two years but little did I know it would be a lot longer.
"The way the supporters and the clubs were with me I couldn't help but stay. There were occasions when I could have left but I wouldn't have been bettering myself. I'd encourage any of the lads to move abroad as you are subjected to different training methods, get the chance to sample new cultures and it definitely improved me as a player."
Regardless of where any of the talented trio end up, the fact they are attracting the attention of foreign clubs has helped to breathe new life into the Scottish game. We may never see another Denis Law or Kenny Dalglish but there's a definite train of thought that Scotland is starting to produce and nurture quality players again.
More Scottish players playing overseas can only be good for the national image and ultimately national team. Kenny Miller and company could yet well put the country back on the football map again and encourage other clubs to take a look at what's on offer in Scotland.