What each Premiership side requires before transfer window closes

The hours are counting down until the transfer window closes until January. Joel Sked looks at the areas each club need to target.

Hibernian's John McGinn is attracting interest from England. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray
Hibernian's John McGinn is attracting interest from England. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray

Aberdeen

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There were concerns early on in the summer that both Niall McGinn and Jonny Hayes would depart Pittodrie. Both exits came to fruition but they were almost trumped by that of Derek McInnes who spoke to Sunderland about the vacant position at the Stadium of Light. However, since he rejected those overtures it has been an upward curve in the north east. A glut of exciting forward players have been added as well as a returning favourite in Kari Arnason. The Dons faltered in Europe but have started the season with four wins from four.

Hibernian's John McGinn is attracting interest from England. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray

With this, any further additions would be an added bonus to a positive start. Louis Moult is still being linked with a move north, but he is not a necessity. If Aberdeen were to strengthen, a robust central midfielder would allow for greater flexibility within the squad. It could mean Graham Shinnie going to left-back and Andrew Considine able to play at centre-back, although it seems pretty clear than Shinnie is no longer a left-back playing in the centre of midfield. A physical, sitting midfielder will be useful in seeing games out, while most Dons fans would always be on the look up for any upgrade in the centre of defence.

Celtic

Brendan Rodgers’ side are well-stocked for domestic action. They could play Nir Bitton and Kristoffer Ajer in the centre of the defence for the whole season and rest Moussa Dembele for the league campaign and they would still lift the title come May.

Even with two from Jozo Simunovic, Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko the argument can be made that it isn’t strong enough to compete in the European competition, especially the latter stages, whether that be the Champions League or Europa League. However, the issue is recruiting a player who is value for money when centre-back options are sparse, compared to what a similar amount of money could get you in the centre of midfield or attacking positions.

Motherwell's Louis Moult has been linked with a move to Aberdeen. Picture: SNS/Gary Hutchison

Some would like to see the club recruit a striker but it isn’t a priority, especially when the player would likely be a back-up, then when Dembele is fit, a back-up to the back-up.

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Dundee

Neil McCann’s side have played well in three league games, losing them all. While in the other they didn’t perform and picked up their only point of the season. Their biggest issue at the moment is the number of players out injured. When the squad is fully-fit they are well stocked in central areas. What they don’t have is cover in wide areas, especially at full-back positions if Cammy Kerr or Kevin Holt were get injured. Tom Hateley and Danny Williams are capable of filling in but it would see a drop-off in quality.

Hibernian's John McGinn is attracting interest from England. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray

With Craig Wighton’s injury, the side lack pace in the striking position. Faissal El Bakhtaoui showed against Hibs that he isn’t that type of forward, preferring to drop off a focal point.

Hamilton Academical

Such is the fickleness of all football fans - both from those on the terraces and those in media positions - opinion has already changed regarding Hamilton’s position after four games. The Accies were widely tipped to be relegated. But seven points and eight goals later, Martin Canning’s men look stronger than a handful of sides despite doing little in the way of recruitment. They have depth in defence which allows the side to play a back three or back four, while the midfield is as competitive as ever.

The only position which perhaps hasn’t been consolidated or strengthened is striker. Despite the eight goals Alex D’Acol hasn’t been replaced. He wasn’t a regular goalscorer but acted as a competent focal point, an out-ball when pressure increased. Rakish Bingham does a fine job offering a threat in behind and running the channels but isn’t as slick with his back to goal. Find a striker who can do that job, while adding seven or eight goals and Hamilton will be a strong proposition.

Motherwell's Louis Moult has been linked with a move to Aberdeen. Picture: SNS/Gary Hutchison

Heart of Midlothian

If there is one team who would want to start the transfer window again it would be Craig Levein’s Hearts. Since January the club have recruited 17 players, yet the squad is unbalanced and understaffed in certain positions. The summer recruitment focused on bringing in players to play a 3-4-3 system but with Ian Cathro’s departure there are weaknesses in certain areas. The squad requires tweaking throughout, but the priority should be width in attack and a midfielder who can control play.

While the problem left-back position has not been totally solved, the lack of wide players further forward is a more pressing matter. During his interim spell Jon Daly has played either 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 but has had to either field central players as wingers or Kyle Lafferty. In the centre of midfield there is a real lack of midfielder who can put his foot on the ball and direct play. Craig Levein will either have to delve into the free contract market or improvise.

Hibernian

Such as been the work down at Easter Road by Neil Lennon and Graeme Mathie, head of player ID and recruitment, that Hibs have one of, if not the most balanced squad in the league. Lennon has the players which allow flexibility between a range of systems, as well as different game plans. The defensive options are extensive, while the signing of Brandon Barker has added even more pace and width.

If offered, Hibs fans would happily see the transfer window slam shut as soon as possible, that would mean John McGinn would be in Leith until January at least. If they lose his dynamism they would have to act fast.

Kilmarnock

Throwing away a two-goal lead at home to Hamilton has epitomised Killie’s slow start to the season. However, Lee McCulloch can be relatively happy with the business he has carried out, after all there was much to do after last season’s failed experiment of recruiting extensively from England. The Rugby Park side have a good balance of experience and youth.

Yet, with Gary Dicker still unavailable there is a glaring hole in the middle of midfield which needs to be filled. Alan Power can already be classed as a mistake, all running power without the ability to match. Dicker is the midfield presence which knits the play together. He gives the team balance and physicality, qualities which are a big miss when he’s not available.

Motherwell

Similar to Hibs, Motherwell’s main focus is holding on to a key player. Louis Moult has told the club that he won’t be signing a new contract, but goalscoring performances similar to that on Saturday against Hearts show his importance. His movement and link-up play is some of the best from a striker in the league and then there is his instinctive finishing. He could be the difference between the Steelmen staying up and going down, maybe even breaking into the top six.

Stephen Robinson has appeared to added to his squad well. The side have a strong spine, there is pace and power. However, a player capable of playing left wing-back would prove useful with the 3-5-2 formation best suited to the squad.

Partick Thistle

The only team without a point to their name so far, yet they are arguably stronger than they were last season. Alan Archibald has a number of options in the centre of midfield, has more options in the forward position than ever before and has catered for the loss of Liam Lindsay.

Both full-backs, Mustapha Dumbuya and Callum Booth are lengthy injury casualties. The former has been replaced but it is left-back which is the key position to fill, even if it is short-term deal.

Rangers

Speculation surrounding Jamie Walker won’t go away but the signing of Aaron Nemane could prevent that move, or Hearts’ monetary demands. With substantial money spent on the squad it is a case of the players adapting, with some quicker than others.

A concern could be the left-back area. Lee Wallace may receive criticism for his crossing but when he is missing Lee Hodson doesn’t offer the same drive and penetration as the Rangers captain. The width he provides looks to be key to Rangers with the left-sided player in midfield likely to play narrow.

Ross County

Like a lot of clubs in the top-flight County could do with greater depth in certain areas. They have four strikers and a glut of central midfielders, but injuries in defensive or wide midfield positions could prove problematic. Andrew Davies is an important leader in the backline, with no one else able to be the dominant defender he is.

Much of County’s creativity comes from wide areas. Jim McIntyre could ease the load with adding forward-thinking players in attacking midfield positions. Perhaps someone who could chip in with goals, to help make up for the shortfall following Liam Boyce’s exit.

St Johnstone

After a summer in which he lost the club’s top goalscorer from the last campaign and faced criticism following the club’s European exit, Tommy Wright has every right to put his feet up on his desk and light a cigar. Saints have added goals and creativity to their team with Stefan Scougall, Denny Johnstone and most importantly Michael O’Halloran all added.

If Saints were to do any more business it would be a replacement for Tam Scobbie who offered excellent coverage in the centre-back and left-back positions. Even so, Wright has added a left-back in Scott Tanser and the club have a number of young centre-backs on their books.