written by – John McIntosh
On Tuesday night, Derek McGregor of the Scottish Sun broke the news that Celtic had made attempts to lure Liam Burt back to Parkhead. However, it appears that the youngster is actually set to sign a new contract and commit his immediate future to Rangers.
Some people reading this may not know an awful lot about Burt or the initial story – so let’s bring you up to speed.
Liam Burt was initially at Celtic youth & then they released him at a young age. In truth, Celtic seem to have a strange youth set up with the focus on winning being imperative and, quite possibly, restrictive to youth development. In turn, they demand the highest of performance levels, so they often will sign a rival player to replace their own prospects.
So in the case of Burt, the way it was dealt with has left a poor taste with some people connected to him. Fortunately, Rangers were on hand to give him a route back into pro youth football and quite rightly as he is a massive talent. He promises to have a big future, if he keeps himself grounded and continues to work hard, which I’m sure he will given his attitude and his support network.
Having briefly spoken to Liam and to someone closely connected to him, I can sense that he is a sensible, grounded lad who has a secure protective family around him who don’t want him messed around again. This is a massive reason I’m very confident, although he has friends in the Celtic youth set up and started there, he wouldn’t be lured away; he’s at the perfect place to develop as a young player.
There is now a clear pathway to the first team, with Mark Warburton interested in developing young, talented players, evidenced by the overhaul of the youth system, influenced by the excellent Head of Youth development Craig Mulholland. That and the fact that Burt is already in the Scotland U19s side at just 16 years of age and heavily involved with Rangers U20s, having scored three goals in his last few appearances – including a delightful lob against Aberdeen.
Liam Burt is versatile in that he can play a few positions but I see his game in a similar light to our own fans’ favourite Jason Holt – with Burt being perfect for the number 10 role in that pocket of space. He has a great first touch, good vision, rarely loses the ball, is a very good dribbler and has added goals to his game along with being a creative outlet. Of course he has a long way to go but he is for me our best technical talent alongside Jordan Thompson in the U20s and has a big future.
Being involved in the first team match squad as the 19th man in a home match against Falkirk will have been an incredible experience at such a tender age. Like many of the U20s team, he is regularly training with the first team and the two groups are far closer these days, which can only be a good thing.
Going back to Celtic’s daring attempt, I know this isn’t the first time Celtic have attempted to try and tempt him back but he has been with Rangers for quite a few years since his release and since the overhaul of the youth set up, our youth have gone from really basic football to a modern 4-3-3 throughout and emphasizes playing the ball from the back in quick, short passing movements, which is very pleasing to see.
Celtic were successful back in 2011 in luring Dylan McGeouch away from us and while he is now playing with Hibernian he hasn’t gone on to be as successful as originally expected. This was still very damaging for Rangers to lose a top youth talent at the time.
My personal opinion is that I feel very confident Liam will make the right decision for his professional career and sign a new deal with Rangers.
You can follow John McIntosh on Twitter @JohnMcIntosh19