I remember a Celtic coach I know telling me that Lawrence Shankland, then a teenager in Aberdeen’s Development team, was “the best goalscorer in his age group in Scotland” and that the club were monitoring him very closely.
I posted this information on one of the Celtic forums that was very popular at the time and there was plenty of discussion around the player and a potential move to Celtic’s Development squad. It didn’t work out for Shankland at Aberdeen and it seemed that his career was going backwards bit he re-established his reputation under Ian McCall at Ayr Utd and got a free transfer move to Dundee Utd in the summer after his Ayr contract expired, amid speculation that he as attracting attention from both Celtic and Rangers.
McCall, now back managing Partick Thistle after a successful term down in Ayrshire, revealed on one of his pundit appearances on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound show that Shankland was very close to joining the Rangers – they like their free transfers – in the summer before agreeing on his move to Tannadice.
Shankland has been scoring freely for Dundee Utd this season and his goals could make the difference in getting them out of the Championship. His form caught Steve Clarke’s eye and with the national team manager desperately short of striking options Shankland came off the bench in Moscow and looked decent enough, given the circumstances in that match.
He started against San Marino and got his first international goal at senior level and there is no doubt that there will now be further interest in the player from Scotland and down south in the next transfer window or two.
An argument against Celtic taking a punt on a Championship player is the way in which Lewis Morgan, a stand-out with the St Mirren side that won the Championship a few years ago, has struggled to establish himself at Celtic, where competition for places in the team is fierce. Neil Lennon seemed determined to give Morgan a shot at doing just that this season but it’s not really worked out so far and he seems to have dropped down the pecking order.
Ironically enough Clarke also called Morgan into his Scotland squad for the match against San Marino and the Celtic wide-man was an unused substitute.
However the counter argument is that Celtic need another striker and Shankland could be seem as the cheap option replacement for Alfredo Morelos across the city if they eventually do manage to offload their much hyped ‘superstar’. A spanner in the works of their plans is always worth at least consideration and Shankland is a goalscorer who could follow in the tradition of the likes of Ally McCoist at Rangers and Leigh Griffiths at Celtic.
He’d score plenty for Rangers and he’d do well for Celtic but would have to fit into the squad as probably a second or even a third choice striker. The player’s own leaning might be more towards Govan than Paradise but this has never been a factor in Celtic’s deliberations over the years.
Former Celtic striker Craig Beattie, who has similar leaning to Shankland but had no hesitation in signing for Martin O’Neill when given the chance, has touted Lawrence Shankland to make it as a Celtic player following a goal on his Hampden debut for Scotland.
Beattie noted that Shankland is the subject of interest from both Celtic and the Rangers; however it is the Champions that Beattie thinks is best suited for Shankland’s style.
Speaking with Paul Slane and Si Ferry on Open Goal’s Podcast Keeping the Ball on the Ground, Beattie tipped the Dundee United man to earn a move to Celtic and prove his worth if it ever came about.
“Celtic need a striker. I think he’s good enough for Celtic. I think he suits Celtic’s style more than Rangers.”
Host Si Ferry agreed that Celtic could use Shankland as Leigh Griffiths wasn’t playing regularly.
And he noted that Bayo has yet not shown the Celtic manager yet that he is capable of being a top goalscorer at the club.
“The way Morelos plays, he creates a lot of the chances and makes a lot of the goals himself, whereas Celtic are more creative in the final third with their wide players.
“I think he would be more suited and think he could quite easily come into Celtic and do a job there,” the former Celtic striker said.
Shankland was looking back at his time up at Aberdeen this week and reflected on the reasons why it didn’t work out for him there.
“I was a young boy at Aberdeen and probably wasn’t really ready for that level at the time.
“It happens. Sometimes you take maybe a step too far than you should have. I went away, worked hard and it’s got me here. Fingers crossed, it keeps going like that,” Shankland told the media, as reported by Scottish Sun.
The chances of Dundee Utd holding onto Shankland longer than the season it would take to get them out of the Championship are slim to say the least. Perhaps a loan back deal, similar to the one Celtic agreed with St Mirren for Lewis Morgan, would be worth considering in January.
Many would dismiss this idea as lacking ambition but Celtic have been tracking Shankland for many years, from the horse’s mouth, and the player has scored at every level he’s played at including on his full international debut.
Neil Lennon is good pals with the Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall. It was Lenny who helped McCall get the Ayr United job after calling the Ayr chairman to recommend him for the vacancy. Lenny could do worse than pick up the phone and call his pal to ask for a frank and honest opinion on the striker.
He’d almost certainly be told that Lawrence Shankland would be worth a punt.
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