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Exclusive Interview: Everyone now thinks Kieran Tierney was a steal for Arsenal at ‘just’ £25-million, and that will have Old Firm players on the radar

© Paul Dennis/TGS Photo/ShutterstockArsenal’s Kieran Tierney.
Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney.

We are approaching the final week of the transfer window and, as ever, Jim White will be front and centre of Sky Sports’ coverage of the final minutes of the wheelings and dealings.

This year, however, will be just a little different.

“I can exclusively reveal that the yellow tie is no longer part of the final-day fabric,” the 63-year-old Glaswegian told The Sunday Post.

“Everybody has been used to seeing me wearing it on the last day of the transfer window.

“But we dress down these days, and that means no tie. Maybe I’ll wear a yellow polo-neck!

“I might, however, still take the tie into the studio and have it on my person – just in case!”

One thing White is certain of is that there are plenty of players in Scotland on the radar of English Premier League clubs.

He reckons the recent success of Kieran Tierney has once again elevated the Scottish game in the eyes of the managers and money-men south of Hadrian’s Wall.

Tierney moved to Arsenal from Celtic for £25-million in the summer of 2019, and is now one of the first names on Mikel Arteta’s team-sheet.

That comes on the back of the massive impact made by Andy Robertson at Liverpool and John McGinn at Aston Villa, while Billy Gilmour is also establishing himself at Chelsea.

So White reckons it’s inevitable that the likes of Alfredo Morelos, James Tavernier and Ryan Kent of title-chasing Rangers, and Celtic pair, Odsonne Edouard and Ryan Christie, will be sought after during 2021.

“There will be interest from many clubs in the EPL in a number of players in the SPFL,” confirmed White.

“I know for sure that Alfredo Morelos and Odsonne Edouard have admirers in the top clubs down here.

“And the likes of Kent, Tavernier and Christie are also on the radar, for sure.

“Leeds United were very keen to get Kent, but Rangers refused to sell.

“They also knocked back £16m from French club, Lille, for Morelos last summer.

“They may well come back in for him, but I’d be surprised if he ended up there.

“The other thing is that with Rangers being on the verge of securing their first league title in a decade, there won’t be many – if any – that will want to leave Ibrox during this window.

© BPI/Shutterstock
Sky Sports presenter, Jim White.

“They will want to be around to help their club complete the good work that has already gone into this campaign.

“They will want a winners’ medal, and to be a part of the celebrations.

“That can’t stop clubs being interested in some of the players. But they may well need to wait until the summer to get them.

“However, there will be interest and there will be bids.

“Clubs in England know there are really good players to be had in the Scottish Premiership.

“The likes of Andy Robertson and John McGinn in the past two or three years are proof of that.

“And there are others, such as Billy Gilmour.

“You then add in the success story of Kieran Tierney’s signing at Arsenal, and it all adds to the interest in Scottish players.

“People are now praising The Gunners for getting Tierney for £25m. Everybody thinks it is an absolute bargain!

“They are incredulous at Arsenal getting him for that kind of fee.

“He has really impressed lots of people with his attitude, work ethic and ability. He gives everything in every game, and I’m told he is the same every day in training.

“The Arsenal fans are aware of all that, and that’s why they have really taken to him. He is so down-to-earth, and they like that.

“You know, I don’t think he is too far away from having iconic status at The Emirates. That’s how highly the supporters think of him as a person and a player.

“So the fact Scottish players have had so much success in recent years makes that market attractive.”

White will strap himself in this week for a busy few days.

As his contacts from all around Europe mark his card, listeners will hang on his every word, from talkSPORT radio in the morning, to when he’s in front of the cameras on Sky Sports in the evening.

He expects plenty of deals, but isn’t certain there will be any sensational transfers in the coming week.

White said: “The transfer market is really strange this season. It’s been a little bit slower than usual.

“I think the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, and how that may continue to have a negative impact on budgets, is making clubs wary of spending too much, or money they might not have right now.

“I’m sure business will be done, but I’m not sure there will be an absolute head-spinner. But I’m sure there will be a few loan deals done that will catch the eye.

“Liverpool may do something as they are without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez just now.

“They will be hoping the likes of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho avoid injury for the rest of the campaign, or that could really be an extra blow.

“So, I’ll wait and see what business gets done.

“I’ll still be on the phone constantly, looking for leads and info. It’s part of the job that I still love.”

When the window closes, every manager will know the squad he has to work with.

While in Scotland, the Premiership looks a one-horse procession, down south it is shaping up into an exciting title race, involving four clubs.

White said: “The battle to win the Premier League is looking very exciting.

“I was on talkSPORT with Simon Jordan the other day, and we both said that there is no reason why Leicester City can’t win it.

“As we saw at Celtic, Brendan Rodgers is an excellent coach, and has a first-class relationship with his squad.

“There is a real togetherness at Leicester. They can do it, for sure.

“Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United are all in the mix, but I’ve a feeling City might just keep it together and continue to thrive.

“They have really looked the part in the past few weeks. Pep Guardiola looks totally focused and motivated.

“So we will wait and see.

“There are exciting times ahead in the game, and we all hope that the supporters are allowed back into the stadiums as soon as possible.”