It would be easy to dismiss reports that claim Arsenal are preparing a £25 million summer move for Kieran Tierney as simply the latest in a long line of speculative links to big-money moves for Celtic’s most prized asset. A line that stretches back 18 months and has placed the left-back on the wanted lists of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and, in recent weeks, Leicester City and Borussia Dortmund.
However, there is a sense that various strands in the Tierney story – a stirring tale of a boy who upset early odds to make good at the club he loves – might be pulling towards Arsenal proving a credible suitor.
The 21-year-old is only 18 months into a six-year contract with his boyhood team, it will be pointed out. Equally, he has never shown any real indication of his head being turned by the game’s glitterati.
However, both these elements could be rendered redundant were he and Celtic to find themselves with a decision to make over a £25m offer from the London side that would pocket him in the region of £80,000-a-week – five times his current salary. And, furthermore, place him in the hands of a club recently ranked ninth richest in world football.
Tierney may not be in any rush to leave a club where he says he has “loved every minute” – and which he says has provided him with greater earnings than he ever imagined he could be banking at so young an age.
That doesn’t mean there would be an irresistible pull to becoming part of Unai Emery’s bold team reconstruction at the Emirates.
As a footballing force, Arsenal are on a different level to Everton, whose manoeuvring to prise Tierney from Celtic last summer, in part, was bound to founder on the Scotland international’s lack of enthusiasm for swapping life among the honours in his 60,000 Glasgow home for mid-table status in the far more modest Goodison.
Moreover, although they are big hitters in so many ways, Arsenal do not splurge out massive sums on players with the abandon of so many members of English football nouveau riche .
Indeed, they are akin to Celtic in terms of their husbandry in seeking to attract exciting young talent for reasonable sums from under-exploited markets.
Investing £25m to recruit Tierney would represent precisely that sort of business. And the name Andrew Robertson could figure highly, both for Arsenal and the player himself, when assessing the shrewdness of such a deal.
It was only a year ago, as Robertson was attracting rave reviews for his part in driving Liverpool towards a Champions League final at the end of his first season at Anfield, that Pat Nevin surprised his colleagues on BBC 5 Live when asked to assess the qualities of the £8.5m signing from Hull City.
Nevin declared that, as good as Robertson had proved himself to be at the highest level, “up here I think we have a better one in his left-back role in Kieran Tierney”.
Now, the pair would not be considered on a level, with Robertson having ratcheted up his career another level in the past 12 months which has led to him becoming captain of his country.
At 25, Robertson is three-and-a-half years older that Tierney. At 21, the Liverpool defender was only feeling his way into life in the English Championship with Hull following a move from Dundee United.
Tierney is further forward at the same stage of his career but some will argue that only by exposure to one of the biggest stages on world football can he fulfil his potential.
That might be rough on both the player and Celtic but it is footballing reality. Moreover, the reality is that Tierney’s love of Celtic might ultimately require him to sacrifice the playing ties that bind him to the club.
For, if he was to attract an offer of £25m, it would represent a fee that would simply be too good for Celtic to refuse.