Virgil van Dijk, Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson, John McGinn… they have all passed through the Scottish Premiership on their way to Premier League stardom and Nathan Patterson might now join such company after completing a £16m transfer to Everton from Rangers this week.
The highly-rated right back is already a regular at international level for Scotland, scoring one and assisting another in his last appearance, and is widely expected to take the next step in his development at Goodison Park where Patterson has been signed to be the natural successor to Seamus Coleman.
Quick to get forward and provide a cross into the middle, the youngster is the quintessential modern full back who will give Everton another dimension in attack. There is potential for Patterson and Andros Townsend to forge a partnership down the right side with the Scotland international always keen to play one-twos and drive into dangerous areas.
Frequently derided south of the border, the Scottish Premiership has earned itself a reputation for being a springboard for young talent. Here are five players who could follow Patterson, and the aforementioned names, in making the move to the Premier League from Scotland.
Rangers currently occupy top spot in the Scottish Premiership and Joe Aribo has been their most eye-catching performer. The midfielder has been at Ibrox since 2019 when he left Charlton as a free agent, but while there have previously been glimpses of his ability it’s only now that he is putting it all together.
At 25 years old, Aribo isn’t as youthful as some of the names on this list, but there is a sense that he has still to find his ceiling. Aribo is capable of playing in any position across the midfield - Steven Gerrard liked him on the right side of a central trio while Giovani van Bronckhorst has more recently deployed him on the left - and is known for his driving runs forward with the ball at his feet.
Only Ryan Kent (2.1) has averaged more dribbles per league appearance than Aribo (1.6) this season with the midfielder also averaging 1.9 key passes and 1.9 shots per game. The 25-year-old has grown into a one-man attacking hub for Rangers, making more Scottish Premiership outings (20) than any other player at the club this season.
With the Scottish champions set to automatically enter the Champions League group stages, Rangers might not feel the need to sell one of their prize assets should they keep hold of their league crown, but everything about Aribo’s trajectory suggests he could thrive in the Premier League at some point.
As a box-to-box midfielder, Lewis Ferguson has more than proved himself for Aberdeen over a number of years. Indeed, the 22-year-old is one of the best in his position in the Scottish Premiership with Ferguson known for his long-range shooting from outside the box. When he scores, it’s usually eye-catching.
Ferguson has been Aberdeen’s most prolific shooter over the course of the 2021/22 season so far, averaging 3.0 shots per league appearance. On top of this, only Christian Ramirez - an orthodox number nine and penalty box poacher - has scored more goals than the former Hamilton Accies academy graduate.
No Aberdeen player has averaged more tackles per game than Ferguson (1.8) this season, underlining how there are two sides to his game. In terms of his qualities, the Dons man is the complete central midfielder and is the sort of player who would improve a number of teams down south.
Under both Derek McInnes and Stephen Glass, Ferguson has been a central figure. However, there’s only so much he can achieve at Aberdeen such is the glass ceiling that exists for teams outside the ‘Big Two’ in Scotland.
The midfielder might need another stepping stone before securing a Premier League move, but there is still potential for him to fulfil.
Connor Goldson has been a central pillar of the Rangers team for the last three-and-a-half seasons, but there is much speculation about his future at the club with the central defender’s contract set to expire this summer. While Goldson’s level has dipped this season, a new challenge could focus him again.
Standing at 6ft 3in, Goldson is a physical presence and offers aerial threat in both penalty areas. Not only this, the 29-year-old is integral to the way Rangers play out from the back, averaging 73.7 total passes per Scottish Premiership game this season - no Rangers player has averaged more.
Much like van Dijk, Goldson is quick to send long passes into attacking teammates, most commonly those in wide positions. In fact, Goldson averages more long balls per match than any other Rangers player - 5.5 per league appearance this season. These numbers illustrate his qualities as a ball-playing centre back.
Of course, Goldson has already sampled Premier League football having played for Brighton before arriving in Govan in 2018, but he is a more complete player now than he was then. The defender is proven at Europa League level and appears ready for a move with contract talks stalling.
Strong rumours linking Ryan Kent with a move to Leeds last summer never amounted to a transfer, but there remains a widespread belief that the Rangers winger will one day test himself in the Premier League having proven himself as a difference-maker over the last few years north of the border.
Kent has only made 12 league appearances this season due to injury and has yet to find top form, scoring just twice, but the 25-year-old is a willing dribbler and frequently makes something happen out of nothing for his side. Gerrard certainly owes a lot to Kent who was key to delivering the former England and Liverpool captain the first league title of his career.
Most commonly deployed on the left side of a front three, Kent likes to cut inside to get a shot away, but is also capable of breaking in behind an opposition defence. This quality might lend itself to a team that plays with a lot of vertical movement, like Leeds which explains their long-standing interest in the winger.
At times, questions have been asked of Kent’s attacking output. Consistency has evaded him at points of his Rangers career, but in the right set-up there’s little doubt that the 25-year-old has the talent to play at a high level, whether that’s at Elland Road or somewhere else in the Premier League.
He may only have been at Celtic for a season-and-a-half after arriving from Motherwell in the 2021 summer transfer window, but David Turnbull’s rapid development means it might not be long before he takes the next big step in his career with the 22-year-old a key figure in Ange Postecoglou’s team.
Turnbull has five goals and four assists in 18 Scottish Premiership appearances this season. Postecoglou has most commonly used the 22-year-old on the left side of his midfield trio where Turnbull has the freedom to get forward and use his natural creativity to pick a pass or get a shot away on goal.
Unlike Patterson, Turnbull has yet to make much an impression at international level, but this is only due to the level of competition for places in Scotland’s midfield. Even still, he has four caps to his name and will surely become a key player for his country at some point in the future such is his natural talent.
In many ways, Turnbull epitomises the way Scotland has changed its focus in the development of young talent. In the past, the country fast-tracked players on the basis of their physical attributes. Now, though, Scotland is producing youngsters who have clearly been educated to play a more technical game. Turnbull demonstrates this.