Scouting Scotland – a look at some of Scotland’s brightest talents by Jake McGhee
Scottish football is enjoying some of the highest standards it has ever seen both domestically and internationally, with the national team on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup and club sides such as Celtic and Rangers waving the Saltire in Europe. The quality of football is undeniably getting better and better with Scottish players being sought after highly such as Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey and Rangers youngster Rory Wilson. Within this piece I’ll look extensively into some of Scotland’s greatest clubs and the young talents that come with them.
There is no shortage of talent coming through the ranks in the East End of Glasgow, players such as Rocco Vata, Ben Wylie and Daniel Kelly are all on the brink of making that jump from academy into the first team with many academy players being gifted spots on the bench by Ange Postecoglou this season. Following Ben Doak’s recent departure to the Red side of Liverpool Postecoglou will be keen to hold onto more of the young talent in Glasgow.
Rocco Vata is a 16 year old attacking midfielder who can also operate out wide on the right flank, he currently plays with Celtic’s B team alongside players who are largely his senior. Rocco’s playstyle is similar to Bernardo Silva and Christian Eriksen, he is an incredibly technical player who displays brilliant close control and a great understanding of the game, additionally he is a player who knows when to use flair and when to keep it simple. Rocco often finds himself occupying the space left between the midfield and the striker allowing him to operate in the half space and utilise his understanding of the game to orchestrate attacks from deep and play a defence splitting ball between defenders, using this space he also shows a knack for a long-distance strike as is seen in this clip:
Rocco would be a perfect fit for Ange Postecoglou’s style of football, a mobile, keen player who possesses a great footballing Brain and has shades of Tom Rogić in his game with his ball control and shooting ability too.
Bosun Lawal is an 18 year old Irish midfielder who can operate either as a traditional number 6 in the holding role or as more of a centre half, Lawal is a tough tackler and a very physically imposing player who seems to cover every blade of grass, think N’Golo Kante or Joshua Kimmich. Lawal was signed from Watford’s academy where veteran striker Troy Deeney described him as ‘effortless’, since coming from Watford he has settled seamlessly into the B team and is the rock in Celtic’s midfield employing his calm demeanour and physicality to often dictate play from deep and glide past players effortlessly similar to Nir Bitton in the senior team. Due to his height, naturally he is an aerial threat and often finds himself on the end of set pieces and shows a great ability to knock a ball down into the danger area with his head as he shows here on international duty:
With Celtic’s midfield not getting any younger and players like Soro perhaps not being of starting quality Bosun Lawal looks to be a great understudy to Callum McGregor or Nir Bitton in the senior team.
To say Rory Wilson is a goal machine would be an understatement, a player who looks set for a move to a bigger club down south Wilson is a prolific goal scorer who has bagged more than 40 goals at youth level for Rangers. For the national team at U-17 level he has also proved to be a major threat as he recently made it for 3 for 3 in an encounter with Georgia which saw the Scot’s seal their place at the U-17 finals being hosted in Israel. Aside from his goal scoring ability he also is a very athletic player, showing great acceleration and strength. If Wilson does move down south there a host of clubs vying for his signature such as Aston Villa and Brighton.
Archie Meekison is a 19-year old attacking midfielder who has recently made his break into the first team, with Tam Courts placing in trust in youth this season Meekison has perhaps been the best example of this faith being repaid, Meekison is a very technical player who carries the ball well. Furthermore Meekison is a player who reads the game well and has an eye for a pass, with Dundee United pushing for Europe this season he looks to be a player who may play a part in it.
Thomson is another homegrown talent who plays in Tangerine and was the shining light in an otherwise dull cup encounter with Celtic, Thomson was brought on in the latter stages of the game and was one of the only players who applied himself for Dundee United and brought the game to the Celtic players, Thomson showed his skill on the ball and found himself beating defenders and playing key balls although his teammates couldn’t make any significant inroads from them. Still only 17 he has aspects of his game he still has to iron out and improve on but this is only natural for such a young player, the future looks bright from Thomson as he’ll try to gain a spot in the starting XI in the coming season.
19 year-old Norwegian Elias Melkersen now finds himself in the green half of Edinburgh following his move from Norwegian Champions Bodø/Glimt, he has taken to life in the Scottish capital rather well, netting 2 crucial goals in his Scottish Cup debut against Motherwell to help his team progress into the next round. Melkersen is a very mobile and quick striker who enjoys playing on the shoulder of the last defender allowing him to utilise his intelligent movement and accelerate away from defenders. Shaun Maloney’s Norwegian pickup looks to be paying off as he seems likely to fight for a spot in the starting XI and display his worth.
Another fullback from Scotland’s endless factory of fullbacks, Josh Doig fits the bill as a first team player in the SPFL already even at 19 years of age. Doig is an incredibly energetic and hardworking player who can be seen making runs up and down the left flank and doesn’t shy away from the defensive side of the game either, a solid passer of the ball he aides the team in progressing from defence into attack and often plays almost as an inverted full-back as he drifts inside to the midfield when his team are on the offensive to help in getting numbers up the park and creating an overload on the left flank. If Doig continues playing the way he is there’s no reason why he couldn’t reach the levels of Aaron Hickey and other young talents, rumours of a move down south or to Glasgow based Celtic have been in the works for the past year or two now, these wouldn’t be ridiculous moves for Doig as he has proven he can play against high quality players.