After a two-week absence, domestic football is back. To help you all look forward to the action this weekend, Craig Fowler has collated a shortlist of the most impressive summer signings who were largely unknown to Scottish football fans prior to their arrival.
Cedric Kipre (Motherwell)
Cards on the table, the former Leicester City behemoth was the inspiration behind this article. He’s simply been a rock at the heart of the Motherwell defence. So much so that Stephen Robinson moved fast to extend the player’s contract by a further 12 months, having initially given him a one-year deal.
Among the league leaders in interceptions and percentage of aerial battles won, he also displays a composure in possession which allows supporters to rest assured that nothing heart-stopping is going to occur after he robs the opposing team of the football.
Glen Kamara (Dundee)
While Dundee weren’t short on centre-midfielders last season, they all tended to fit into one category; that of the industrious No.8. As a result, Scott Allan was a signing rightly heralded by fans and pundits alike. Here was a player who could operate between the lines. He brought something different to the table. The same should have been said about Glen Kamara but, because we weren’t familiar with his skills, his arrival slipped under the radar.
Kamara is a bona fide defensive midfielder. Like Paul McGowan or James Vincent, two who’ve filled in at the position in the past, he’s energetic and willing to fight for the football. Unlike the aforementioned pair, he retains a positional discipline. His job is to stay in front of the back four, protect the unit and disrupt the opposition, and that’s what he does.
Incredibly, having featured in all nine of Dundee’s games so far, he’s only three appearances away from matching his career total prior to this season.
Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)
Rangers went for a mixture of both the familiar and the unknown this past summer. Bruno Alves, Graham Dorrans and Ryan Jack were presumed to be good signings and, predictably, they have been. But of the rest a question mark still hangs - except for, perhaps, the Colombian striker with an eye for goal.
The 21-year-old has netted five times in the past four games and is growing with confidence in each passing week. Presumed to be just a penalty box player, he demonstrated in the recent 3-1 victory against Ross County a suitability for dropping deeper and linking with team-mates when the situation demanded it.
Rangers have relied a lot on crossballs so far this season, second only to Motherwell in total crosses attempted, and even though Morelos isn’t the biggest forward, his ability to hang in the air makes him a legitimate threat with his head as well as his feet.
Jordan Turnbull (Partick Thistle)
Though they’ve lost all four league games thus far, Thistle can feel quietly content with the shape of the squad and the direction of this season as a whole. After all, in Hibs, Celtic, St Johnstone and Aberdeen, they could scarcely have started with a tougher run of fixtures. Only in the Hibs match, a 3-1 defeat at Easter Road, could you claim they weren’t in the match right up until the final whistle.
The sale of Liam Lindsay was looked upon as a huge loss, but while they’ve still got a few things to figure out tactically, on an individual level they could scarcely have found a better replacement. The 22-year-old, on loan from Coventry, plays with a confidence and aggression rarely seen in someone so young. His performance in the 1-0 defeat to Celtic bordered on the heroic and there should be plenty of more to come when Thistle’s season picks up.
Olivier Ntcham (Celtic)
Stop rolling your eyes. Just because someone costs £4.5million, doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a household name. Sure, if you’re an Italian football aficionado, you may have known about the ex-Genoa midfielder who spent two season on loan from Manchester City. If you aren’t, chances are you were busy Googling the French under-21 star’s name along with the rest of us when Celtic’s interest first became public.
Though he has the stature, acceleration and athleticism to be a physically dominant midfielder, what’s been most impressive so far has been his passing, both in terms of range and the quickness and accuracy with which he moves the football. He’s a perfect fit for Brendan Rodgers’ system.