Don't judge Ollie Burke by price tag, says Kenny Dalglish

The then British record transfer fee of £440,000 paid by '¨Liverpool to snare Kenny Dalglish from Celtic in 1977 would be equivalent to around £2 million in today's money.

04/09/16 - WORLD CUP QUALIFIER   MALTA V SCOTLAND (1-5)   TA' QALI NATIONAL STADIUM - MALTA   Oliver Burke in action for Scotland
04/09/16 - WORLD CUP QUALIFIER   MALTA V SCOTLAND (1-5)   TA' QALI NATIONAL STADIUM - MALTA   Oliver Burke in action for Scotland
04/09/16 - WORLD CUP QUALIFIER MALTA V SCOTLAND (1-5) TA' QALI NATIONAL STADIUM - MALTA Oliver Burke in action for Scotland

By that form of ready reckoning, Oliver Burke’s stunning £13 million move from Nottingham Forest to RB Leipzig already makes him over six times more valuable than the man regarded by many as Scotland’s greatest ever player.

Such comparisons may indeed be odious, but that won’t prevent them being made. Even Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee recently observed that Burke could become the kind of iconic player the national team have lacked since Dalglish won the last of his record 102 caps in a 3-0 win over Luxembourg at Hampden 30 years ago.

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Dalglish was back at the national stadium yesterday, joining fellow Tartan Army idol Archie Gemmill in the formal re-naming of the William Hill South Stand, and was characteristically more cautionary in appraising Burke’s potential.

He is an admirer of the 19-year-old winger, who is expected to win his fourth senior cap when Scotland face Lithuania at Hampden on Saturday night in the second match of their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

But Dalglish has warned against placing too much initial expectation upon the shoulders of the most expensive player in Scottish football history.

“If someone goes for £13 million, there’s going to be a bit of pressure on him, isn’t there?,” said Dalglish. “He looks big, strong and confident but he’s only a boy. Give him a bit of a chance and don’t look at the price tag.

“He might be worth every penny, I don’t know, but don’t judge somebody by the price tag. You can get a free transfer player who is as good as a very expensive one.

“I know Mark said he could be the player who makes the difference in games for Scotland,
but it’s still a team game. In that 11, some will play well, some will play badly. If you are relying on one player and he plays badly, you are reducing your chances a great deal. So give the boy a chance.

“Everybody is looking for someone to look up to and give us a bit of status. It’s a big move, going abroad to play and he seems to have handled it pretty well. He’s scored for Leipzig already and looks to have settled quickly.

“I don’t know what his options were when he was leaving Forest, but to go to Germany is a big move for him. It’s also a big move for Leipzig because £13 million is a lot of money for them to spend – especially on somebody as young as that who has not been proven.”

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Dalglish believes Burke’s development can be enhanced by playing in the Bundesliga, just as former Celtic and Scotland captain Paul Lambert moved his career onto a different level by moving to Borussia Dortmund 20 years ago.

“If you listen to Paul, he will tell you how his football education was helped a great deal by going over there and learning a lot,” added Dalglish. “If you step up and adapt to the culture, you’ll have a better chance.

“Oliver was in a different country anyway in England, so it’s just another place to move to! Seriously, it’s a courageous move but it depends on the characteristics of the boy. If he settles down, it will be to his benefit and to Scotland’s benefit.”

As Scotland look to build some momentum in Group F on the back of their opening 5-1 win in Malta last month, Dalglish is hopeful Gordon Strachan can rebound successfully from the failure to reach the Euro 2016 finals.

“That was disappointing but the three teams who finished above is in our group – Germany, Poland and Republic of Ireland – all went on to make the last 16 in the finals,” added Dalglish.

“So it was a great effort. We took four points off the Republic but they qualified. We came so close against Germany and Poland, conceding last minute goals, and I think wee Gordon can be really proud of the job he has done.

“Look where we were before Gordon came in. We really weren’t far away at all last time and with just a bit of luck, we could have been in France.

“I didn’t see the game against Malta, I was driving at the time and listened to it on the radio. When Malta equalised, I nearly drove off the road! But the boys came back really well and scoring five goals is a big boost.

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“Every game in the group is important, but it’s a wee bit early to say Saturday is a must-win for Scotland. We are sitting with three points already, while Lithuania drew their first game at home to Slovenia, so they are under more duress than us.

“Lithuania have been to Hampden before and we know they will be well organised and a big, strong team. So we might have to be patient. But the support at Hampden is always fantastic and if we start on the right foot, they will help us.”

England remain favourites to win Group F, despite the upheaval of Sam Allardyce’s dramatic exit as manager after just one match at the helm. According to former Scotland captain Gemmill, who is still based south of the border, the turmoil which has seen Gareth Southgate appointed as caretaker boss may not necessarily make life any easier for Strachan’s men who face the English at Wembley next month.

“These things tend to be a two-day wonder and I think it will be sorted out and forgotten about pretty quickly from England’s perspective,” said Gemmill. “Gareth knows all the players inside out and it’s a fresh start for them under him. They will be out to impress him, so it might make it a bit more difficult for Scotland.”

l Kenny Dalglish was speaking at the unveiling of the new William Hill Stand at Hampden Park. William Hill is a proud sponsor of the Scotland national team.’