The success of Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson in English football has not altered the opinion of Premier League scouts when it comes to talent in Scotland, says former Celtic star Harald Brattbakk, with transfer targets “not rated high enough”.
Two title winners in waiting at Anfield have shown that potential can be unearthed in the Scottish Premiership.
Both Van Dijk and Robertson did, however, require a stepping stone elsewhere before ending up on Merseyside – with the former leaving Celtic for Southampton and the latter trading Dundee United for Hull City.
There is plenty of talent generating interest north of the border at present, with Celtic stars Odsonne Edouard and Kris Ajer said to be attracting admiring glances from afar.
Brattbakk is not convinced that they will get the big-money moves they deserve, to the calibre of club that they are capable of gracing, with there still reluctance on the part of Premier League teams to gamble on players in another British recruitment pool.
“A lot of good players in Scotland are not rated high enough because they think that Scottish football is not good enough,” ex-Norway international striker Brattbakk told the Glasgow Times.
“Van Dijk had to go to Southampton and play two seasons before Liverpool thought he was good enough. They could have bought him for £50 million straight from Celtic but they had to pay £25m more from Southampton. That’s unfair.
“But it shows that there are so many good players in Scotland – even going back to the likes of Henrik Larsson who scored 50 goals a season and went on to win Champions League with Barcelona.
“Andrew Robertson, too. There are so many quality players in the Scottish system and I just hope that more get the chance to play for Scottish teams, but also if they want to move on, then it’s possible.”
Current Norway star Ajer is said to be a summer target for former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers at Leicester, with his agent admitting that a move could be on the cards in the next window, but Brattbakk says a fellow countryman will not force a switch.
He added: “I don’t think Kris is the kind of guy that needs that to have a good career.
“Maybe like Henrik he can stay here for a few more years. But then money is a big issue. I heard Van Dijk doubled his salary going to Southampton and then doubled it again at least when he moved to Liverpool.
“Obviously that can make a difference and you would be stupid to say no to doubling your money somewhere else. But it has to be a good match for the player as well. The money that is in football now is so big at that level anyway – if you have three million a year or five million a year, who cares? It doesn’t make a difference.
“It’s more important to choose a club that suits you. There are so many to choose from down south. And Kris has been brilliant. But what impresses me most is that he is good at school as well. He left school with all As. That’s equally impressive and tells me that he is focused on everything he does.
“He is not the quickest, he is a big guy but not the strongest. But he just puts together all these qualities and becomes a brilliant central defender. He is consistent most of all. He is very mature. He is important for Celtic and also for Norway.”