Invisible at Arsenal, indispensable for Scotland, it has been a strange old season for Kieran Tierney.

He could well close it out with a Premier League winners’ medal, becoming only the third Scot behind Colin Hendry and Andy Goram to collect one in the modern era. And yet, you feel the former Celtic left-back would not place it into his personal silverware drawer with complete satisfaction.

Tierney has spent more than his fair share of time on the sidelines during his career, but until this term it has almost been exclusively dictated by injury. As the Gunners seemingly soar towards a first league crown since 2004, the 25-year-old has been mostly fit, yet still on the outside looking in. How’s that for a touch of cruel irony?

It is difficult, almost impossible, to criticise, mind you. The presence of Oleksandr Zinchenko has been as pivotal to Arsenal’s rise as it has detrimental to Tierney’s minutes on the pitch, and he’s accumulated only four league starts. The Ukrainian is a class act and, crucially in the eyes of Mikel Arteta, better suited to the tactical masterplan that has his team sitting seven points clear of Manchester City in the race to the finish line. For Tierney, though, opportunities to play are likely to be few and far between moving forward.

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It is little wonder then that he was on a mission to remind us all of his immense talent during the international break. That lung-bursting run up the left hand side for Scott McTominay’s second against Spain was a joy to behold - the pace, the power, baiting Dani Carvajal just enough to think he could stop him, only to leave the Real Madrid paying for a ticket back in. He is probably one of the only players in world football capable of that performing that underlapping centre-back role so devastatingly.

If Tierney had slipped off fans’ radars over the past few months, he was never far away from Steve Clarke’s thoughts. The Scotland manager singled the defender out for plaudits amid the chaotic celebrations that followed McTominay’s double, and made it clear earlier this month that he should not give up on his career in North London.

“It’s one of the things you have got to deal with when you are playing at a top-level club,” said Clarke. “I had it myself when I was a player. Obviously in the early days at Chelsea it was a little bit easier but once you had the foreign influence starting to come in and better players start to turn up, you find yourself at a level where you are maybe not going to be selected to play every game. You have to deal with that. He (Tierney) understands why he is not getting so many minutes in the Premier League. He has just got to knuckle down and get on with it. That’s what he is doing.”

For how long does he hold out, though? Even Arsenal fans would likely agree Tierney is far too talented a footballer to settle for a living as anyone’s deputy. Arteta himself gave a non-committal ‘I don’t know, I’m not thinking about it’ answer when asked about the player’s future earlier this month, but reports have begun to leak out suggesting he could be available for £25million come the summer transfer window.

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Premier League clubs have already been linked, and you’d imagine most will be keeping an eye on him, at least. Perhaps more intriguingly, though, is the prospect of a move abroad. Juventus’ name has been dropped into the pot of potential suitors, and Tierney would become the most high-profile Scot yet to make the jump to Serie A. As a player who has competed for honours almost his entire career, would such a move be more appealing than mid-table in England? For the neutral observer, at least, it certainly would be.

It still feels a little early for that inevitable return to Celtic Park as Arsenal would surely demand too hefty a price. Champions League football, too, is a likely factor. Tierney is an established Premier League and international player, but he has not played at European club football’s top table for several years.

The Herald: Arsenal reportedly value Tierney at £25millionArsenal reportedly value Tierney at £25million (Image: PA)

Cracking that last frontier is something you envisage will be at the forefront of his mind, if there is any decision to be made in the coming months, and not something clubs middling around the eternal nothingness of the Premier League’s midsection would be able to offer him. He’s far too good for that, anyway.

Getting him on the pitch regularly once more will, of course, only be of benefit for Clarke and the national team. Their exploits over those two opening fixtures have dramatically slashed the odds on securing a place at Euro 2024 in Germany, with Norway already under serious pressure ahead of a crucial June meeting with Scotland. By the time the third round of qualifiers rolls around at the beginning of next season, having Tierney playing regular football at a high level once more would be invaluable to Clarke.

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There was concern pre-international break that having a few fair of his regulars not featuring week in, week out for their clubs would be detrimental to the qualifying campaign. And although that fear proved spectacularly unfounded against one of the world’s top teams, the manager would still much rather have his go-to men as first choice on the team sheet for their respective clubs.

Ultimately, though, it seems likely the decision on what comes next will be left to Tierney himself, in that Arteta is unlikely to try and move a full-back of his calibre out the door of his own accord, even if he does not intend on playing him every week. It’s a crossroads moment for him, certainly, but he is highly unlikely to be short of options.