MONEY talks in modern football. In fact, it positively, as Bob Dylan once sang, swears. Every player, no matter how committed or important he is to a club’s cause, has a price.

So if Hearts receive a substantial seven figure offer for their captain Lawrence Shankland during the January transfer window they might, despite the positive noises which have been emanating from Tynecastle in recent weeks about contract extensions and improved terms, be tempted to cash in on their prized asset.

Even if the bid comes from their cinch Premiership rivals Rangers. Neil McCann, Dave McPherson, Alan McLaren, Lee Wallace, David Templeton and Kyle Lafferty have all made the switch from Gorgie to Govan in the past. Shankland could well end up taking the same well-trodden path if an attempt is made to land him. 

The Scotland striker, who is 28 now and may only have one more major move left in his career, will doubtless have his interest piqued if an opportunity arises for him to increase his earning capacity while he is at the peak of his considerable powers despite his happiness at Hearts.

Yet, there will be more than the health of his bank balance for the leading scorer in the top flight, who took his tally for the 2023/24 campaign to 17 with his stunning injury time winner against Hibernian at Easter Road on Wednesday night, to consider if suitors come calling.

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How will a transfer affect his chances of being named in in the 23 man national squad for the Euro 2024 finals in Germany during the summer?

The Herald: Shankland, who came off the bench and netted a late equaliser against Georgia in the qualifier in Tblisi last month, is currently in the form of his life. He is at club where the fans adore him, the manager understands him and there is a system which suits him. But will he continue to flourish in new surroundings?

There is every chance. Still, his spell at Beerschot in Belgium will still be fresh in his memory. He netted five times in 26 appearances for the Antwerp outfit and benefitted greatly from plying his trade at a higher level than he had previously. But after suffering a relegation at the end of the 2020/21 season he was happy to return to his homeland.

Seeing the centre forward playing for a bigger club would possibly please Scotland manager Steve Clarke, who can select Che Adams of Southampton, Jacob Brown of Luton and Lyndon Dykes of Queens Park Rangers up front, and perhaps increase his chances of making the final cut for Euro 2024.

At the same time, though, sitting on the bench instead of starting every week would be detrimental to his hopes of enjoying what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Shankland, who is out of contract in the summer of 2025, would be well advised to remain where he is until at least the end of this term, continue to help Hearts’ push to finish third in the Premiership, add to his already impressive haul of goals and ensure he is involved with his country at the European Championship finals.   


This is a time of year to reflect on the year just passed and look ahead at what the coming 12 months holds. It is to be hoped that 2024 proves as enjoyable for Scotland and their supporters as 2023 was.

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Competing in the Euro 2024 finals in Germany in June will, with the host nation, Hungary and Switzerland to be overcome in Group A, not be easy. But if national manager Steve Clarke has his best players fit he can secure a place in the knockout rounds of a major tournament for the first time ever.

The revelation by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp this week that captain Andy Robertson is “not even close” to returning from the shoulder injury which he suffered against Spain in Seville in October is, then, slightly concerning.

With a bit of luck, the left back will be available for the international friendlies in March.


The press release which announced that Alex McLeish had been made an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List for his services to football as well as his charitable endeavours over the years listed his many achievements.

His accomplishments with Aberdeen and Scotland as a player and Motherwell, Hibernian, Rangers, Birmingham City as a manager make the former centre half a worthy recipient of such recognition.

But his second spell in charge of Scotland should not be overlooked either. His tenure only lasted 14 months and was widely considered to have been a failure. He left his post after just two Euro 2020 qualifiers. However, it should not be forgotten that he laid the groundwork for the success which has been enjoyed since his departure during his challenging reign.

His team topped their Nations League group and secured a Euro 2020 play-off spot – the route which the national team took to end their 23 year wait to qualify for a tournament finals – and he also brought in the likes of Jack Hendry, Scott McKenna and Scott McTominay.

Big Eck OBE can settle down to watch the Euro 2024 opener against Germany in Munich in June with a sense of pride.     

The Herald: