12 pre-contract moves Scottish Premiership clubs should make

Osman Sow has scored 11 goals in 26 games so far this season. Picture: SNS
Osman Sow has scored 11 goals in 26 games so far this season. Picture: SNS
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Craig Fowler assigns one Scottish Premiership player with an expiring contract to each of the top flight clubs.

This question came in for the Scottish Football Mailbag, but I felt it deserved a longer look that our seven-minute show would allow.

Now, I’m not saying these should be the marquee signings or that all of these guys will definitely leave their club, these are just bargain buys that each club should, at the very least, think about trying to bring in. Guys who will improve the overall squad, if not the first-team.

Aberdeen - Ziggy Gordon (Hamilton)

It’s looking increasingly likely that Shay Logan will leave Aberdeen at the end of the season, which will be a big void to fill at right back.

There are a few candidates out there, with Ryan McGowan and Paul McGinn also available, but Gordon represents the safest bet. He’ll also strengthen the ginger contingent at Aberdeen with Adam Rooney, Mark Reynolds and Jonny Hayes already among the star performers.

He’ll also turn 23 before the end of the season, meaning no development fee shall be required.

Celtic - Osman Sow (Hearts)

I know Celtic have been linked with John Souttar, who is also out of contract this summer, and would represent the easy choice.

But there’s a question that’s been increasingly nagging at me this season: is John Souttar actually any good?

There’s no doubt he has great potential, but potential doesn’t always come to fruition, and he’s beginning to look like a player who will forever be caught in between positions. Do Celtic want yet another long-term project?

To be honest, I’m not sure Celtic will want Osman Sow either. Even though I am a massive fan of his talents, I’d be concerned he’d become next season’s Nadir Ciftci - a clearly talented player unable to make the step up.

However, there are not many other players out of contract who Celtic would even consider, and Sow has the highest upside, leaving him the pick by default.

Celtic would actually do well to offer a deal to Shay Logan, but there’s no chance of that happening.

READ MORE - Osman Sow in no rush for new deal at Hearts

Dundee - Danny Williams (Inverness CT)

This ticks two boxes for Paul Hartley’s squad.

First, it gives them a natural wide player, which they’ve been crying out for all season. And it will give them insurance at left back if Kevin Holt fails to improve, since Williams can operate in both positions on the left flank.

Whenever Hartley become exasperated with Holt, he turns to Gary Irvine. That’s nobody’s idea of a long-term strategy.

Dundee United - Frederic Frans (Partick Thistle)

Until results start turning around (I’m not counting a win against Airdrie) you have to be of the opinion that Dundee United need E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

However, the area of the park that’s really been letting them down badly is the defence, as they’ve been making too many basic errors.

Frans is not a world beater, but he’s a solid enough defender and would help cut down those mistakes. And the emergence of Liam Lindsay could make the Belgian expendable at Firhill.

READ MORE - Celtic target Souttar ‘will stay at Dundee United’

Hamilton Accies - Wes Fletcher (Motherwell)

Accies need a frontman they can rely on; Fletcher needs to play every week.

The one caveat here is the option of another year in Fletcher’s contract at Motherwell.

However, should player and club decide to part then he could do worse than to move the short distance over to Hamilton and show Motherwell what they’re missing.

Hearts - Craig Slater (Kilmarnock)

This was the hardest team to pick for. Hearts could do with a new left back, but none of Jamie Reckord, Callum Booth or Danny Williams were moving the dial.

There’s also the fact that Slater would command a compensation fee paid to Kilmarnock, making this hypothetical move the least likely of the lot.

However, there should be few complaints round Gorgie way if this were to somehow happen. Slater is a good technical midfielder capable of dictating play and starting attacks. He’s also very young, at 21, and has potential to get better, which fits the model Hearts are going for.

READ MORE - 25 Scottish football stars with expiring contracts

Inverness CT - Alex Schalk (Ross County)

Despite ICT and Ross County being a bona-fide rivalry, it doesn’t stop the two clubs from signing players from each other.

This is based on the understanding that, being as remote as they are, it’s difficult to entice quality from the central belt to relocate to the Highlands. Instead, they often try to make use for the other side’s spare parts.

Schalk is a handy wee player who’s quick, nimble and can drift into pockets of space around the defence. The trouble is he’s either third or fourth on County’s depth chart and may want a guaranteed first-team place.

Kilmarnock - Danny Swanson (Hearts)

He’s a Hearts player. What more is there to say? Gary, you can thank me later.

From his time at Dundee United, and even his spell with St Johnstone, it’s clear there’s a terrific technical player within Swanson. The trouble is whether he’s going to get a run in the side to show his worth at Tynecastle.

Kallum Higginbotham has fallen out of favour at Rugby Park in recent weeks and Locke may be on the look-out for another No.10.

READ MORE - Danny Swanson to fight for long-term Hearts deal

Motherwell - Jamie Reckord (Ross County)

Steven Hammell is nearing the end of his career, racking up injuries along the way, while Joe Chalmers has yet to convince the Fir Park faithful. So it’s fair to say the Steelmen will be on the hunt for a new left back.

Of those that are available Reckord may be the easiest to get, since County already have Richard Foster on the books and playing well.

Partick Thistle - Chris Erskine (Dundee United)

It’s time for the former hero to come home.

Partick Thistle could use a midfielder capable of strengthening the attack, while there’s every chance Erskine will want to move from a side recently relegated to the Championship.

While he didn’t look wholly comfortable in a loan spell back at Firhill two seasons ago, Erskine has improved tremendously since then as he’s finally found his feet in the top flight.

His mercurial style would suit Thistle no problem.

Ross County - Paul McGowan (Dundee)

Dundee will be looking to hold on to the player, and they do have the added clout of being a bigger club.

However, County have been throwing a bit of cash around this past year and may use the bottom line to convince the midfielder to travel north.

He would be a fantastic partner in the centre of the park alongside Jackson Irvine. County really need two energetic and tireless players in that area to offset any numerical disadvantage from playing a 4-4-2 system.

St Johnstone - David Goodwillie (Aberdeen)

Saints have twice tried to sign Goodwillie in the past and this summer may be the occasion where they get their man.

The former Scottish and Dundee United striker has shown flashes of his old self during his time at Pittodrie, but it’s unlikely to be enough to convince Aberdeen to offer him a new deal.

St Johnstone will be in the market for a new striker with Steven MacLean due to turn 34 next August, and John Sutton failing to repeat his Motherwell form at McDiarmid Park.

And if anyone can get the best out of Goodwillie, it’s Tommy Wright.


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