Rage and rancour over Celtic’s David Turnbull saga misses the point

David Turnbull is believed to have held talks with Norwich after they matched the �3.25m offer made by Celtic. Picture: SNS
David Turnbull is believed to have held talks with Norwich after they matched the �3.25m offer made by Celtic. Picture: SNS
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It never seems to suffice in football, but there are instances where essentially everybody’s right and nobody’s wrong.

If ever there was a case in point it is with the transfer toings and froings that have led David Turnbull to look towards England when this time last week his sights seemed fixed on Celtic. A case when so often what it seems has been missed is the point.

It emerged last night that a move to Norwich City for the 19-year-old Motherwell midfielder isn’t the given it had recently appeared. That would be entirely apposite. Nothing has ever been quite as it has been presented in what has now become one of those classic summer deal-or-no-deal sagas.

Like the grandest of these archetypal scenarios, there has been a desire to see developments in terms of bad guys, botches and big pound-signs causing reason blindness. Strip away the rage and the rancour, though, and what’s left are differences of opinion. Imagine... points of view that don’t concur! How on earth could this happen?

Let’s recap. Celtic last week agreed a £3.25 million fee with Motherwell for Turnbull, a mightily promising teenager whose half-season in senior football yielded 15 goals from only 30 appearances. His agents then sat down to talk turkey with Peter Lawwell and the two sides could not agree a dish to satisfy all. So far, so standard in football.

There then followed the one false note in this entire process when Celtic tweeted out that the player’s representatives had turned down a “magnificent offer”. There then followed more false notes than you’d hear if Les Dawson sat down and played a full piano concerto.

Celtic’s discordant input – if we overlook their discussing publicly incomplete business as they never, oh no never, do – was failing to include a rider to the faintly toe-curling “magnificent offer”. The phrase really should have been followed “for us “for a largely unproven teenager”. It is believed they were willing to pay Turnbull in the region of £12,000-a-week. That is serious money both in terms of Scottish football and their wage structure. But it isn’t even half of what they, in the end, were willing to foist at John McGinn to prevent him rejecting their advances in favour of Aston Villa last summer.

What Celtic were prepared to pay Turnbull was right for them, and protective of their position. The fact it was decreed, by the player and his agents not to be right from their perspective resulted in all manner of opprobrium being heaped on those who are tasked with maximising the youngster’s earning potential.

This begs one simple question: why precisely? As subsequent events have demonstrated, Celtic were not Turnbull’s only suitor. It is believed he travelled down to Norwich yesterday for talks with the newly-promoted English Premier League club after Motherwell accepted the same £3.25m bid that Celtic lodged days earlier, ahead of yesterday ending their interest in the player. This turn of events is proof that the actions of Turnbull’s agents had no cost to their player. It now seems eminently possible that he will earn more money in a superior footballing environment. This simply does not square with the oodles of comment that infer he has somehow been left in a predicament as the consequence of being badly advised.

The issue given traction yesterday is that, at this stage of his still-fledgling career, Turnbull isn’t ready to play in the English Premier League. Yet it could equally be argued that he wouldn’t have been ready to have made an instant impact at Celtic. With Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic all vying for the 
No 10 role at the Scottish champions, there were no guarantees Turnbull would have accrued much in the way of game time, 
initially at least.

Football considerations, then, were pretty similar whatever he chose as his next destination to play football. That being the case, it is understandable if money matters ultimately could be the swaying factor. No finger pointing in any direction is warranted over that.