Matt Ritchie joins list of highest transfers for Scotland players

Scotland international Matt Ritchie

Matt Ritchie has joined Steven Fletcher in becoming the joint most expensive Scotland international on a day when both found new employers in the English Championship.

The circumstances of their moves could not be more contrasting and reflect careers that are travelling in opposite directions.

Both have moved down a division. But, while Fletcher has been picked from the list of summer free agents by Sheffield Wednesday,[1] Ritchie will no doubt argue that his £12m switch[2] from Bournemouth to Newcastle United is indicative of a step up in club stature if not in league position.

Ritchie, having been schooled in the lower leagues with Dagenham & Redbridge, Notts County and Swindon Town, has come a long way since being plucked from relative Championship obscurity to make his debut for a country he admits he had never visited until being called up by Gordon Strachan two years ago.

The Gosport-born 26-year-old helped the unfashionable south coast club win promotion to the Premier League, where they – and perhaps he – held their own against the odds.

Scotland missed out on another major finals as the likes of Northern Ireland, Wales, Albania and Iceland have done themselves proud at Euro 2016.

And the bottom has fallen out of the domestic transfer scene since the heady, some would say crazy, days of Tore Andre Flo’s £12.5m move from Chelsea to Rangers in 2000.

But, while the inflated prices in the English market – and inflation itself – must be taken into account, Scottish players still manage to command sizeable fees.

After Ritchie, who are the top five most valuable Scotland internationals?

Craig Gordon: Hearts to Sunderland £9m August 2007

It is eight years since Craig Gordon, already a Scotland regular, moved from Hearts to Sunderland for the highest fee ever paid by a British club for a goalkeeper. Early praise was followed by injury woes interspersed with loss of form and he spent two years out of the game and contemplating retiring before resurrecting his career with Celtic on his return to fitness.

The fee paid was surpassed in 2011, when Manchester United paid £17m for David de Gea, while Fraser Forster took over from the 33-year-old as the most expensive goalkeeper to move from Scotland when Southampton paid £10m for the Englishman in 2014.

Alan Hutton: Rangers to Tottenham Hotspur £9m January 2008

Great things were expected of Alan Hutton as he starred for Rangers in the Champions League. It led to a determined pursuit of the right-back by Tottenham Hotspur, but amid competition from Croatia’s Vedran Corluka and England’s Kyle Walker, he fell out of favour under manager Harry Redknapp and eventually moved to Aston Villa.

Signed by Alex McLeish, he also fell out of favour under Paul Lambert and spent time on loan to Nottingham Forest, Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers, but the 31-year-old was back as regular starter as Villa were relegated last season.

Steven Fletcher: Wolverhampton Wanderers to Sunderland £12m August 2012

Until now, Steven Fletcher’s career has been one of steadily increasing big-money moves. First from Hibernian to Burnley for £3m, then to Wolves for £6.5m and ultimately to Sunderland for that record £12m figure.

However, still only 29, he finds himself freed for the first time having first fallen out of favour under Sam Allardyce then loaned out to Marseille for the second half of last season. His time in the French top flight was again a long way short of a goal-fest and it will be Championship football with Sheffield Wednesday for the Shrewsbury-born striker this season.

Ross McCormack: Leeds United to Fulham £11m July 2014

Ross McCormack has emerged as a much-wanted man since playing in the Champions League for Rangers as a teenager. He never became a regular at Ibrox and a loan move to Doncaster Rovers then permanent move to Motherwell followed. A modest transfer to Cardiff City then Leeds United, and a reasonable scoring record in England’s second tier, led to an £8.9m switch to Championship rivals Fulham.

Now there is talk of yet another summer move, with reports of Sheffield Wednesday launching a £11.5m bid that would team up the 29-year-old with Scotland team-mate Fletcher. All that money changing hands and he still cannot get a regular game for Scotland.

Jordan Rhodes: Blackburn Rovers to Middlesbrough £9m February 2016

The Oldham-born son of former goalkeeper Andy is another Scot to have clubs reaching for the cheque book yet leaving his national manager unconvinced. Having started his career with Ipswich Town, it was with Huddersfield Town that he started to hit the net regularly and it led Blackburn Rovers to pay £7.6m for his services in 2012.

In February, Middlesbrough paid out £8.9m to bolster their eventually successful bid for promotion to the English top flight. There has been much speculation about whether Rhodes has the quality to make the step up to the Premier League and now the 26-year-old has a chance to prove his doubters wrong – unless Boro decide to bring in an even more high-profile striker.

References

  1. ^ by Sheffield Wednesday, (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ £12m switch (www.bbc.co.uk)

BBC Sport – Football

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