Scottish Premiership Free Transfer Targets
With the season coming to an end and with the summer transfer window on the horizon, every team will be making plans for next season. Within Scotland, most of the movement comes from free transfers with teams able to capture players under freedom of contract. Each year, plenty of success stories come from this, with Barrie McKay, Charlie Mulgrew, Liam Kelly and Bruce Anderson some of the best examples from this season. All 12 clubs will be looking for bargains of similar or better success to improve their squads and take them to the next level in the upcoming campaign. Without further ado, here are targets that each of the current twelve Premiership clubs should be looking at within the free transfer market.
Aberdeen: Regan Charles-Cook
The Dons attacking output over the last few seasons has suffered massively, with the 2018/19 season having the Dons finish the season with 57 goals scored and 2019/20 having the Dons on 40 after 30 games played. Last season saw a pitiful 36 goals scored with this season seeing the Pittodrie side on 41, with Lewis Ferguson the club’s top scorer with 11 (8 of which were penalties) and Christian Ramirez following up with 10 goals. Both players are rumoured to be departing this summer, meaning the club will be without their previous season’s most prolific players. Regan Charles-Cook is an obvious solution, with the Ross County attacking midfielder currently sitting as the Premiership’s top scorer with 13. Charles-Cook has had an excellent season and has been one of the league’s most exciting players who has produced when it has mattered. His form has allowed the Staggies to gain a top-six position and a push for Europe still on the cards. Naturally, County will be priced out of retaining their star player and Aberdeen could do much worse than take a punt on Charles Cook. Fifteen goal contributions is a fantastic return with the player’s work rate making him suitable for Jim Goodwin’s side. Aberdeen don’t have many wide options as it is right now, with the club likely to invest in a whole new attack for next season, one in which Charles-Cook could be a very key part.
Celtic: Ola Solbakken*
Cheating a bit with this one as Solbakken’s contract with Bodo/Glimt expires this December rather than in the summer, meaning the Norweigian could soon be available on a pre-contract. The forward has been linked with Celtic in recent weeks, with the Glasgow club getting to see Solbakken in action earlier this season in the Europa Conference League. Solbakken scored against Postecoglu’s men in the second leg and offers an option either through the middle or on the right-wing. As usual, Celtic will have a hectic schedule next season and squad depth will be important for competing in all domestic competitions next campaign. Solbakken would add quality as well as depth, with great showings in the Europa Conference League showing how good he can be. At only age 23, there is plenty of resale value should Solbakken be a success and on a free or minimal transfer, definitely seems like a player worth taking a punt on.
Dundee: Jack McMillan
Barring a miracle, Dundee will be playing Championship football next season and a rebuild will be on the cards. Dundee put a lot of faith in signing veterans which haven’t quite gone to plan, with Cillian Sheridan, Niall McGinn and Leigh Griffiths failing to make a great impression on the first team and change the club’s fortunes. For Dundee, they should be looking to freshen things up and a player like Jack McMillan would be a great acquisition on a free transfer. Comfortable as a right-back or as a central midfielder, McMillan has barely put a foot wrong in his time at Livingston becoming a valuable squad player. McMillan’s biggest issue at the club has been that he’s had to contend amongst the club’s most consistent performers, most notably Nicky Devlin, Jason Holt and Scott Pittman which has meant he’s not played as much as he would like. A season in the Championship would be great for McMillan to get regular game time, providing quality and cover in a number of areas for a Dundee side that needs freshening up.
Dundee United: Zander Clark
Under Tam Courts, Dundee United have continued to be a solid team who are hard to break down, with their strong defence being the main reason they secured a top-six finish. With 42 goals conceded, United have the fourth-best defence in the league, but their attack falters and is only the eighth-best in the league, with 34 scored. A big part of this success has been Benji Siegrist, with the Swiss goalkeeper having a fine couple of seasons at Tannadice but is looking destined to leave the club. Zander Clark has more than proved himself to be a good Premiership quality keeper, even earning himself call ups to the Scotland squad. Clark would be a cheap but quality fix for Siegrist which will desperately be needed following the goalkeeper’s form since joining the club. Clark has made 90 saves this season alongside nine clean sheets, the same number of shutouts that Siegrist has managed this campaign. With St Johnstone’s Premiership status in the air, this may prompt Clark to look elsewhere to secure his future, with United likely to improve on his wages as well.
Hearts: Jamie McCart
With John Souttar heading to Rangers and Taylor Moore’s loan finishing up, Hearts will be on the look for a centre back to aid them in Europe next season. Jamie McCart has been a mainstay in the St Johnstone defence for the last few seasons, although this one hasn’t quite gone to plan. That doesn’t mean that McCart is no longer a good player, with St Johnstone’s main issue being their attack in this poor season. McCart is comfortable playing in Hearts’ favoured back three and at 24 years old, is an ideal player that Hearts will feel they can improve. McCart may not be as comfortable on the ball as Souttar was, but on a free transfer is as good a replacement within the Scottish leagues that you’ll get. McCart has been a reliable player in his time at St Johnstone, winning the cup double last season and playing in the European qualifying stages earlier this season. With the defender’s contract running out, it looks like the Perth side will have a fight on their hands to retain the player, with him being a great option to add depth to this Hearts squad.
Hibs: Alan Forrest
Despite Forrest’s links with Hearts, he is a player that Hibs should be doing everything in their power to get their hands on. Forrest is a quick, exciting goal threat from out wide, something Hibs have severely lacked since Martin Boyle left the club in January. It’s been an awful season for the Easter Road side and they are in desperate need of a lift to make next season seem brighter. Signing a talented and exciting player like Alan Forrest would be a tremendous piece of business, with Hibs needing him a lot more than Hearts do. Forrest has had a brilliant second half of the season for Livi, with the winger creating a lot of his own chances by picking the ball up wide and driving into the box. Forrest averages 3.26 shots a game and has the 5th most shots on target in the league. Playing in a Hibs side that will have more of the ball, Forrest should excel and would be a player that would get the Easter Road faithful on the edge of their seats. His goal in Leith earlier this season is a perfect example of what he can do in one v one situations, with the player developing a signature finish by cutting in on his right foot. Many teams are unsurprisingly interested in Forrest and Hibs should absolutely be one of them.
Livingston: Alex Gogic
David Martindale has stated his desire to add some more height and physicality to the Livingston midfield, with the Lions operating mainly with the smallest midfield in the division. Martindale wants to improve on Livi’s efficiency in both boxes at set-pieces, with a bit more of a presence in the middle of the park allowing this to be aided at the same time. Alex Gogic seems like an ideal David Martindale player, with hard work and tenacity being factors within his game and is exactly what Livi seem to be looking for in this transfer window. St Mirren are interested in retaining the Cypriot following his loan, with other clubs rumoured to be circling the defensive midfielder as well. This would be a coup for Livingston should they be able to convince Gogic to ply his trade at the Tony Macaroni Arena, although the club may be priced out against others who are interested.
Motherwell: Callum Hendry
Callum Hendry seems to be back on form following a couple of loan spells at Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, with the striker scoring seven of St Johnstone’s last eleven goals. Hendry is a hard-working forward who has shown at St Johnstone that he can get goals, he just requires better service that isn’t always afforded to him. The loans away from the club have come as a surprise, which leads you to think he isn’t entirely fancied under Callum Davidson, with the striker seemingly recalled from Killie due to Chris Kane’s injury. Due to this, it looks like he may be moving on, with Motherwell a very suitable option for the 24-year-old. The Fir Park side are still looking to replace Tony Watt’s goals and Hendry would offer a similar outlet, with the forward keen to get on the ball early and make runs into dangerous areas to get himself goals. The striker would fit in well with Graham Alexander’s side as he puts himself about and can be a real nuisance for defences, as has been shown in recent weeks. A move to Motherwell would be somewhat of a step up for Hendry, who will be looking for more stability at a club than he has received in his time in Perth.
Rangers: Sam Johnstone
Allan McGregor has been a great servant for Rangers but at 40-years-old, the Ibrox side may be looking to bring a new first-choice goalkeeper. McGregor has made more mistakes this season as well, leading to many fans suggesting a fresher face in goals may be best for the club. Sam Johnstone is a name that has been linked with the club, with the West Brom and England goalkeeper’s contract expiring this summer. Johnstone is still often in England squads despite playing in the Championship and has proven himself to be a solid goalkeeper. For Johnstone, he is unlikely to get a move to a top-half club and get consistent game time, making Rangers an attractive destination with European football being offered as well. Johnstone would be a great replacement for McGregor with the goalkeeper having the possibility to be the club’s number one for at least the next five years.
Ross County: Danny Mullen
With Ross County likely to be without Regan Charles-Cook and Joseph Hungbo next season, County will need to build a new and effective forward line. Jordan White has been a key player for County this season, providing a foil to hold the ball up and allow attacking players to play off him. Danny Mullen could be an astute piece of business for County, with the forward having a great amount of energy and has popped up with seven goals for Dundee this season. With how poor Dundee has been this season, Mullen has shown that he has the quality of a Premiership player with his contribution and Malky Mackay will believe he can get the best out of him. To replace the goal tallies of the aforementioned Charles-Cook and Hungbo may be a step too far but Mullen would provide a good option, especially in rotation if Ross County qualify for Europe.
St Johnstone: Reghan Tumilty
A lot will be up in the air for St Johnstone just now, with the club likely to feature in the playoffs meaning their budgets, new signings and retaining players rely on what division they shall be in. There are several key players whose contracts are expiring at the end of this season, one of those being Shaun Rooney who would be a big loss. Should he leave, St Johnstone should look to the Championship and specifically at Reghan Tumilty as a replacement, a player who has been solid for Raith Rovers over the past two seasons. Tumilty isn’t quite the physical presence as Rooney is but is very much a quality player on the ball who has shone under John McGlynn. The Raith Rovers full-back is good on the ball and with five-goal contributions this season would be a solid signing for most Premiership sides.
St Mirren: Craig Sibbald
Connor Ronan has helped fill the attacking gap left by Jamie McGrath this season, but the midfielder is rumoured to be unlikely to return to St Mirren next season, with the likes of Aberdeen interested. St Mirren will be on the look for a creative midfielder who provides something different than the current options and can link to their attack. Craig Sibbald is a suitable option for St Mirren, despite having a torrid season with injuries and Covid issues. Sibbald was a mainstay under David Martindale but has had a frustrating campaign where he has not been able to get a run of games together. Now back to fitness and with a good pre-season under his belt, Sibbald would be a very efficient option as he has quality on the ball and can play across the midfield. The Paisley side wouldn’t be losing much dig in the middle of the park either, with Sibbald showing at Livi that he will put the yards in and get stuck in.