Crossing the border: Swapping the Scottish Premiership for the English Premier League

Scottish Premiership

It’s certainly an exciting time in the Scottish Premiership. There are several top players on show, with leading clubs Celtic and Rangers locking horns in an intriguing battle for the title.

It’s true that countless talented players have once upon a time made their way to Scotland, particularly at the beginning of their careers.

Importantly, Celtic, Rangers and indeed many other Scottish clubs have been key to providing the game with some of its greatest players. The clubs have not only plucked these players out of thin air but have gone on to develop them and help them find their feet.

Many such players over the years have made a high-profile switch south of the border to the English top-flight. Examples include the likes of Celtic legend Stiliyan Petrov and Rangers hero Giovanni van Bronckhorst. The latter is now in charge of his former side.

Ex-Celtic striker Mark Viduka and Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon can also be added to the list, as well as the likes of former Hoops midfielders Victor Wanyama and Ki Sung-Yeung.

That is a trend that is continuing nowadays. Nathan Patterson has recently journeyed from Glasgow to Merseyside, joining Everton from Rangers. Odsonne Edouard is another top talent to have made the trip, joining Crystal Palace from Celtic. Defender Kris Ajer is another Celtic export, currently plying his trade in the Premier League with Brentford.

But which are the best transfers from the Scottish Premiership to the English Premier League?

Scottish Premiership
Odsonne Edouard spent four years at Celtic before moving to Crystal Palace

Virgil van Dijk – Celtic to Southampton

There is perhaps only one place to start when it comes to players making the switch from Scotland to England. And that is with Virgil van Dijk. 

The Netherlands defender joined the Scottish Premiership outfit from Dutch side Groningen in 2013. He spent two years in Glasgow, winning two league titles and a league cup. Individually meanwhile, the towering centre-back was named in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year in both of his seasons there, on top of winning Celtic’s Players’ Player of the Year in 2013/14.

He even got on the scoresheet from time to time, smashing home free-kicks from the edge of the box, a feat he has yet to replicate at current club Liverpool, primarily due to playing second fiddle on set-pieces to Trent Alexander-Arnold.

By now, it was inevitable that the Premier League would come calling. South coast outfit Southampton won the race for his signature. The defender excelled once again, winning the club’s Player of the Season award in his first campaign at St Mary’s.

It took just one and a half more seasons for Premier League giants Liverpool to make their move. The rest, as they say, is history, with Van Dijk proving to be worth every penny of his £75m price tag. Celtic, who saw his potential early on, received 10% of the fee.

Andy Robertson – Dundee United to Hull City

Move over just one spot to the left of Van Dijk at Liverpool and you find left-back Andy Robertson. The Scotland international has been one of the best full-backs in world football in recent years.

He enjoys a hugely positive relationship with Van Dijk beside him, as well as Sadio Mane in front of him. Robertson is definitely one of the first names on the team sheet for the Reds.

And just like Van Dijk, he made the switch from the Scottish Premiership to the Premier League, joining Hull City from Dundee United. The move south came after just one season in the Scottish top-flight, with Robertson initially starting out in the Scottish Third Division with Queen’s Park.

Three seasons – two in the Premier League and one in the Championship – followed at Hull, before Liverpool made their move. Again, neither party has looked back.

Scottish Premiership
Andy Robertson is quickly becoming a Liverpool legend

Kieran Tierney – Celtic to Arsenal

There is, of course, another outstanding Scottish left-back currently playing Premier League football. And that is Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney. His time in north London has been hampered by injury, but when fully fit, his ability is there for all to see.

Tierney is another Celtic export and another who enjoyed a stunning career in Scotland. In five seasons at Celtic Park, the Scotland international won four league titles, two Scottish Cups, and two Scottish League Cups.

Several individual awards also went his way, with many Celtic fans forced into an emotional goodbye when he left for London in 2019. Many Bhoys fans were upset that Tierney didn’t stay longer, but he simply could not have turned down the opportunity to join the English giants.

Stuart Armstrong – Celtic to Southampton

Exactly like Van Dijk, midfielder Stuart Armstrong joined Southampton from Celtic. But unlike Van Dijk, Armstrong had indeed already established himself as a top player in Scotland before joining the Hoops. He was a regular for Dundee United for four and a half years in their constant battle in trying to topple Celtic and Rangers at the top of the table.

The Scotland international then won four league titles, two Scottish Cups and two league cups in his four years at Celtic. It was at this stage that Armstrong had convinced Southampton to make their move, and it’s one that has proved very successful so far.

Scottish football’s European exports

It’s important to remember that Scottish clubs are also responsible for producing exciting talents that have chosen to venture further than England. Celtic certainly helped develop the careers of Moussa Dembele and Jeremie Frimpong, who now find themselves at Lyon and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.

Another talented youngster in Aaron Hickey left Hearts for Bologna not so long ago. And it’s impossible to discuss such transfers without mentioning Celtic legend Henrik Larsson, who won the Champions League with Barcelona after seven years in the east end of Glasgow.

Scottish Premiership
Henrik Larsson etched his name into Celtic folklore with his stunning displays

Could the likes of Celtic star duo Liel Abada and Kyogo Furuhashi be the latest in this long production line? Or perhaps Hibernian youngster Josh Doig, or Aberdeen prodigy Calvin Ramsay? It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on such players in the coming months.