The 12 most intriguing SPFL transfers of deadline day

Craig Fowler looks at each of the headline deals from the final day of the January transfer window

Michael O'Halloran joined Rangers from St Johnstone. Picture: SNS
Michael O'Halloran joined Rangers from St Johnstone. Picture: SNS
Michael O'Halloran joined Rangers from St Johnstone. Picture: SNS

Nadir Ciftci to Eskisehirspor (loan from Celtic)

Is this the end? Celtic fans believe there shouldn’t have been a start.

It never looked like a comfortable fit. Ciftci’s laid back style seemed at odds with Ronny Deila’s high pressing system, while his capricious nature was always going to test the patience of Celtic fans. With Leigh Griffiths waiting in the wings he needed to hit the ground running, and that chance was taken away when he was banned for his bite attack on Jim McAlister, which Celtic should have taken into account when they signed him.

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The three years remaining on his deal suggest he’ll get a second chance, but Celtic are never slow to cut ties with players, especially strikers, who are not up to scratch.

It would be a dreadful shame if this was the last of Ciftci in Scottish football. He was such an asset to the top flight when he starred at Tannadice. But his future at Celtic is hanging by a thread, and after experiencing the bright lights of a Champions League qualifier it’s unlikely he’ll return to more modest SPFL surroundings.

Colin Kazim-Richards to Celtic (free transfer from Feyenoord)

Michael O’Halloran to Rangers (£500,000 from St Johnstone)

Rangers proved a lot of people wrong when they stumped up the cash for the winger. Now it’s up to O’Halloran to show it was a wise investment.

The jury will not return with the final verdict until the club and player are back in the top flight. Unlike Ciftci, however, the new Rangers signing has the perfect opportunity to hit the ground running and built up some momentum. He’ll be facing second tier full backs every week and it can help him improve his consistently, while also giving him a great confidence boost ahead of next season should promotion be secured.

Mark Warburton views O’Halloran as someone who can play across the four forward positions. It’ll be interesting to see if he tries to use him consistently in a different role - up front, for example - or whether he just stations him there against select opponents, like St Johnstone used to do.

Don Cowie to Hearts (free transfer after leaving Wigan)

This is the most intriguing deal of the lot. What do Hearts want with a soon-to-be 33-year-old centre midfielder when they already have the impressive Arnaud Djoum and Miguel Pallardo in the middle of the park?

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The move pushed Morgaro Gomis out on loan to Motherwell. A quick glance at both of their careers would tell you Cowie is the better player, but he’s got three extra years on his exiled team-mate. That’s a lot of time when you’re comparing footballers in their 30s.

One would have to assume it’s a deal on low wages, with Cowie happy to play the role of back-up and possibly join the coaching staff in the near future.

Of course, he could be brilliant despite his age. Maybe his release from Wigan was because it wasn’t the right fit, and not because his career is winding down at a rapid pace. We shall see.

John Souttar to Hearts (£150,000 from Dundee United

David Goodwillie to Ross County (loan move from Aberdeen)

From an Aberdeen perspective this move makes perfect sense. After trialling a 4-4-2 system they quickly came to the conclusion Goodwillie wasn’t able to cut it any more, at least not with his confidence at rock bottom. However, this also begs the question, why do Ross County want him?

It’s easy to envision a scenario where Goodwillie goes to a “smaller” team and thrives. If he has the assurance of playing every week regardless of form he can rebuilt his shattered ego. Hamilton, for example, would have been a perfect fit for him. Even on his bad days he’s better than their current attackers.

At Ross County this is unlikely to happen. The last thing the Dingwall side looked like they needed from the transfer window was another striker. They’ve already got Liam Boyce and Craig Curran, while Alex Schalk has emerged as a terrific change of pace option and Brian Graham is one of the strongest fourth choice strikers in the country.

Will Goodwillie play more in Dingwall than he did at Pittodrie? It wouldn’t be a surprise if he actually plays less.

Patrick Roberts to Celtic (loan from Fulham)

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James Forrest has yet to sign a new contract and Gary Mackay-Steven, while in decent form of late, hasn’t demonstrated the required consistency to shine at Parkhead, so Celtic do require an upgrade at the wing position. While they may already have a plethora of attacking midfielders, only those two mentioned are types who like to run at the full backs and hit the byline.

Even in the overinflated English transfer market, Roberts’ £12 million transfer from Fulham to Manchester City indicates he should improve the team. He played 20 times for Fulham last season and has already appeared three times for Manchester City, meaning he’s not just some no-mark from the reserves.

Lee Hodson to Kilmarnock (loan from MK Dons)

I’m not going to pretend to know much about a defender from England’s League One. However, right back has been a problem position for Kilmarnock for a while now, and a quick look at the player’s career history (played close to 100 times for Watford) would suggest he’s a good bet to fill the void.

Abiola Dauda to Hearts (loan from Vitesse)

Similarly, I don’t know much about the potential replacement for Osman Sow, but if he’s as scary on the park as he looks in his photos then SPFL defences are in for a world of hurt.

Go Google him if you haven’t already. Those duplicate scars underneath his eyes were apparently given to him at birth!

Simon Church to Aberdeen (loan from MK Dons)

As previously mentioned, Aberdeen want an upgrade at the striker position alongside Adam Rooney now that they’ve switched to a 4-4-2. Church is similar to Goodwillie in that he doesn’t have a great goalscoring record, but if he can be a better facilitator to Rooney and the likes of Kenny McLean and Niall McGinn attacking the box from midfield, then he’ll prove himself to be a sensible acquisition.

Morgaro Gomis to Motherwell (loan from Hearts)

He’s been harshly squeezed out by Hearts and will have something to prove at Fir Park.

It remains to be seen what Mark McGhee’s plans for him are. One would imagine the Motherwell boss will push Stephen Pearson out to the left of midfield and station Gomis alongside Keith Lasley, with either Lionel Ainsworth or Marvin Johnson at the right wing position.

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It’ll be a gamble putting Pearson, arguably their best player, out of position on the left, but the midfield four is crying out for more balance. When Ainsworth and Johnson, both out-and-out wingers, start games in the 4-4-2 then Motherwell tend to lose.

Adam Nesbitt to Partick Thistle (loan from Celtic)

There are big things expected from the Celtic youngster. He’s impressed in youth sides for both club and country and it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to the rigours of playing regularly in the top flight.

Thistle do lack a bit of quality in the attacking midfield triumvirate behind lone striker Kris Doolan, so even if Nesbitt can give them a handful of games where his undoubted potential shines through, it could be huge in their bid to fight the drop.

They also signed A. German (first name Antonio) whom I don’t know much about, other than his name spawning a million tiresome jokes on social media.