THE trick to successful haggling is to state your price and then try to hold your nerve. This was something I failed to get the hang of on a trip with friends to Seville some time ago when, entirely befuddled by the whole wheeling and dealing process, I somehow ended up paying €50 to get my shoes shined. Still, my sandals never looked cleaner, even if it wasn’t easy getting the polish off my feet back at the hotel afterwards.

Scottish clubs in the transfer market have a similar tendency to capitulate at the first discussion of money when it comes to a trade. Many are the examples of a cash-rich buyer, usually from the English Premier League or Championship, arriving with their chequebook open to extricate the latest rising star from a Scottish club and leaving having spent a great deal less than they really ought to have.

Clubs wouldn’t sell the rest of their assets – the floodlights, the pitch, the stands – for anything below what they were worth so it remains a mystery why there is a greater willingness to let the most valuable thing on their books – the players – often move on for figures considerably less than market value. St Mirren fans, for example, still recall John McGinn and Kenny McLean leaving for a combined sum of less than £300,000 and shake their heads forlornly. At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

Of course it is easy to take a stance when you have no skin in the game. For smaller clubs, producing and then selling their own talent becomes almost a part of the business model. If you have budgeted for a player moving on to help meet other costs – and it is a fairly sketchy way of doing business – then it is perhaps not a surprise that the need to ensure that transaction gets concluded within the constraints of the transfer window is more important than holding out for a few quid more.

There are community clubs who have constructed new stands, built a training facility, or completely overhauled their squads with the takings from the sale of just one outstanding player who has gone on to better things. And in those circumstances, it is easy to see why there is a reluctance to haggle with a much bigger club who could easily grow tired of the process and decide to take their business elsewhere.

Undoubtedly, though, liberties are being taken. English clubs observe the state of Scottish football, note the relative buttons that clubs receive through broadcasting income and other commercial arrangements, and the meagre wages – again relatively speaking - on offer outside of the biggest clubs and act. Little wonder they decide to chance their arm with offers for players that our clubs ought to find insulting if they were in a better financial position in which to say so.

If the same player was operating at a rival English club or in one of the other big five European leagues then you could almost guarantee the bidder would be to sure to add at least another nought on the end of any transfer offer.

And that’s the situation in a nutshell. Clubs are not offering what a player is worth in the free market but what the selling club can’t afford to turn down. At a lot of Scottish sides, the ceiling isn’t all that high. And unless the club can stir up other interest to force an auction, then they often have to accept a sum for a leading player that is far less than he is truly worth.

Did Virgil van Dijk improve five-fold as a player during his 27 months as a Southampton player? Probably not. But when Celtic sold him for around £13m it was because that was at the limit of what they could refuse. Southampton, backed by the billions swilling around English football, could afford to hold out for £75m when Liverpool wanted to take the defender off their hands just two-and-a-quarter years later.

Now Celtic have another similar dilemma regarding Kieran Tierney in light of Arsenal’s ongoing interest in the player. Neil Lennon was shrewd to point out that Manchester United recently shelled out £50m to sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka, another talented young full-back of burgeoning repute but with none of Tierney’s international or European experience.

Which is the better player at this stage in their careers or has the greater potential to develop is a matter of subjective preference. But, in truth, that isn’t really the issue. Wan-Bissaka has moved on from Crystal Palace, an established Premier League club whose need for transfer income isn’t as great as Celtic’s. Palace decided it would take £50m to relieve them of a key asset and United met that demand.

At the time of writing Arsenal were yet to meet Celtic’s valuation of £25m for Tierney. If the club has decided that figure is the line in the sand that must be met, then the hope must be that chief executive Peter Lawwell and the rest of his board do not budge from it for the sake of both Celtic and the rest of Scottish football. If Celtic can hold firm to get what they want then it might send a message to other English clubs that the days of half-priced Scottish bargains could be coming to an end.