Why Aberdeen are focusing on quality over quantity in the transfer market

When Calvin Ramsay departs Aberdeen, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will do so as the club’s record transfer sale.

There is almost an inevitability about it such is his talent and the impact he has had on Stephen Glass’ side since his emergence as a first-team player at the age of 17.

The full-back has attracted plenty of interest from England and around Europe. While bids are expected for the teenager this month, Aberdeen are hopeful of holding on to the player for the remainder of the season.

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His sale, which will likely eclipse the £3million received for Scott McKenna, will mark what the Dons hope will be the start of a conveyor belt of youngsters progressing from the academy to the first-team before being sold on for significant sums which can be reinvested into the playing squad and infrastructure, including a new stadium.

Calvin Ramsay will likely break Aberdeen's record transfer sale. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
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For that to happen a pathway has to be in place to allow these youngsters to develop, to play games and gain experience.

Case of Barron

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In the middle of the January transfer window it has been noted by some, including Edinburgh City assistant Brown Ferguson, the lack of Scottish players signed by top-flight clubs and concern that will limit playing opportunities.

Aberdeen’s one signing has arrived from the US in the shape of Dante Polvara, who won the award for best college player in the states. But there has been encouraging news elsewhere.

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Matty Longstaff underwhelmed during his loan spell from Newcastle United. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

Matty Longstaff returning to Newcastle United was closely followed by teenage midfielder Connor Barron signing a new deal with the club and being recalled from his loan spell at Kelty Hearts to be part of the first-team squad.

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To say Longstaff, who was understandably regarded as quite the coup when he signed in August, underwhelmed is an understatement. The same goes for Austin Samuels who had his loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers cut short by Aberdeen. Neither seemed to adapt to Scottish football, whether it was the pace of the game, physicality or simply underestimating the quality.

Examples to follow

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The message from Aberdeen now is quality over quantity when it comes to recruits in order to create a pathway. The club don’t want to be carrying a big squad. They want players to be trying to emulate Jack MacKenzie and Ramsay in making a name for themselves in the first-team when given the chance.

The highly-rated Barron, a composed, assured and technical 19-year-old midfielder, was the latest in a string of young talents to commit their future to the club. Ryan Duncan, Evan Towler, Tom Ritchie and MacKenzie have all put pen to paper recently.

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Examples to follow, templates to inspire to are out there for Aberdeen – and other Scottish clubs. Dons chairman Dave Cormack has spoken positively about Danish side FC Nordsjælland previously and their ability to monetise player sales. Norway’s Bodø/Glimt are another which can be put in that category.

Scottish players have never been more in demand this century than right now. Clubs from Europe are looking to the country, while it is becoming a more appealing market for English teams due to changes brought on by Brexit.

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Slowly but surely, the value of players in Scotland will rise and become more realistic in relation to their talent.

Aberdeen's aim is to have those players, like Calvin Ramsay, ready for that step.

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