TRADITIONALLY, one of the biggest concerns for any young player making the move to either side of the Old Firm has been game-time, or the potential lack of it.

There have been numerous examples of players who may have flourished at smaller clubs being somewhat swallowed up at either Celtic or Rangers throughout the years, and any young player who makes the move has to weigh up the life-changing money on offer and the opportunity to play for such a big club with the potential hampering of their development due to a lack of guaranteed first-team football.

The latest young Scottish talent to be linked with a move to Glasgow is Motherwell sensation David Turnbull, with Celtic’s informal advances for the 19-year-old so far being rebuffed by the Fir Park club.

Those conversations will continue, but if the clubs do reach an agreement and Turnbull does make the move, who might he oust from the Celtic starting line-up? Or, if Olivier Ntcham does leave Celtic as reports suggest he might do this summer, is Turnbull a ready-made replacement?


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Here’s what the stats say…

When comparing Turnbull to the attacking midfielders in the Celtic squad, the most obvious stat that jumps out is his number of goals. He bagged 15 goals last season for Motherwell in just 30 appearances, while the closest contender from those who operate in a central midfield area for Celtic is Ryan Christie with nine goals to his name.

Turnbull, of course, spent a lot more time on the field than Christie, who endured two long injury lay-offs throughout the season. Turnbull managed 2575 minutes in the Scottish Premiership to Christie’s 1598, with both players registering the same number of assists on four apiece.

It is Christie’s output that most mirrors that of Turnbull’s, with the rest of the Celtic midfielders failing to provide anywhere near as much of a goal threat. Tom Rogic and Ntcham scored just three goals each last season, as did Callum McGregor, whose stats are a reflection on the withdrawn position that he was asked to employ for much of the campaign.

The comparisons with Christie don’t end there, with the average goals per game of 0.5 apiece and average assists of 0.14 for Turnbull and 0.23 for Christie, meaning Turnbull is keeping pace with the 24-year-old in terms of his attacking numbers.


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It is likely then that if Turnbull did make the move to Celtic, he would be competing alongside Christie for a starting berth, and that might see a considerable drop-off in his time spent on the field. While Christie would have played more if not for injury, Rogic and Ntcham too had just 1402 minutes and 1374 minutes under their belts last term respectively in comparison to Turnbull’s 2575 at Motherwell. Again, injuries played their part, with Ntcham missing almost three months at the turn of the year with a knee problem, and Rogic having knee troubles of his own throughout the season. Perhaps that is another reason for their interest in beefing up that position.

The dilemma then for Celtic may be that they don’t want to engage in a bidding war for Turnbull when they already have a player on their books in the shape of Christie who can perform a very similar job. On the flip side of that, at over four years Christie’s junior, the potential of Turnbull to improve those numbers still further is surely what is interesting not only the Scottish champions, but numerous clubs in England.

For Turnbull, the downside to the move is the potential for his minutes on the pitch to be shaved down by around 1000 over the course of a season, as is the approximate mean for players in his position at Celtic.

There are of course considerable financial and career flipsides though, and the quietly confident youngster will back himself to be a starter wherever he ends up playing next season.

UPDATE: Celtic have been given permission to speak to David Turnbull after meeting Motherwell's £3m valuation of their midfielder.

The 19-year-old will now hold talks with the Scottish champions with a view to becoming Neil Lennon's first signing since taking charge of Celtic for the second time.