Scottish football serves to divide opinion. How many times have you visited the pub on a matchday and found your friends agreeing on every decision? It’s rare, and we’re sure this question won’t be an easy one to answer either.
Who do you think the best player in Scotland is? Our writers at Brig Sport have chosen their top four choices and explained why they believe you should vote for them. At the end of this article, you’ll find a link to a survey where you can have your own say – so make sure you give it some thought.
Dylan Inglis says: James Tavernier
On current form, there is no better Premiership player than James Tavernier.
Joint top-scorer and assister in the league, whilst forming part of a backline that’s conceded just seven goals all year, the Rangers skipper’s performances this season have blown away the expectations for full-backs. He’s an integral, if not the integral, part of how Steven Gerrard sets-up his team, and has developed massively over the last couple of years.
By taking a look at some attacking metrics we can see just how much the right-back is involved in play. Remarkably, only three players have more total touches in the opposition box, with the cover provided by the likes of Ryan Jack, allowing Tav to flood into the area and essentially become another striker.
For the most part, teams haven’t been able to deal with this. It is tough enough marking the Rangers front-line; now they’ve got to deal with another player just as lethal. It’s almost impossible!
Tavernier ranks second in the league for key passes, first for progressive passes, fourth for progressive runs, first for passes completed from deep areas, and second for total crosses into the box, showing that every time Rangers look to construct an attack, they’ll include their right-back as much as possible.
The development of a player, however, comes down to how they have improved their weaknesses, and with Tavernier there was always one glaring fault. This tended to be the number of goals Rangers conceded due to his poor defensive positioning.
It’s clear to see that this is nowhere near as big an issue anymore; granted both Motherwell and Aberdeen’s recent goals could be seen as Tavernier’s fault, but they are two of very few examples. Whether that’s because of a defensive improvement on his part, or the superb work of the midfielders, it can’t be ignored.
If you had to pick one player this season who has positively impacted his team the most, it would have to be Rangers’ James Tavernier!
Kris Johnston says: Callum McGregor
There are obviously plenty of players to choose between in a league growing in overall quality every year. Callum McGregor may not be the flashiest player in the Premiership, nor does he record the most goals or assists, but for me he eases into the conversation when it comes to the best overall performer.
Players have come and gone at Celtic Park during their unprecedented run of domestic dominance, but McGregor has remained a constant in a team full of stars. He has made 312 appearances since his first team debut back in 2014 (an average of 48 matches a season), highlighting just how important he has been to a number of different managers.
An incredibly clever footballer, McGregor can play in various positions on the park. Although he suits sitting on the left of a double pivot more than anywhere else, he is adaptable enough to play further forward or out wide if required; he even played left back for the majority of the 2017 Scottish Cup final after an injury to Kieran Tierney.
McGregor has started all twenty-one of Celtic’s league matches this season, contributing three goals and three assists. He has completed 90% of his passes, created 40 chances and has a 73% tackle success rate. He offers the best of both worlds as a central midfielder, helping out both defensively and in the final third.
The 27-year-old has earned 26 caps for Scotland and recently helped them to qualify for a first major tournament since 1998, starting in the already famous win over Serbia. He certainly needs to be in this conversation.
Craig Mahood says: Connor Goldson
It is not a great secret that Rangers are by far and away the best team in Scotland at the minute.
They’re 21 points clear at the summit ahead of Celtic’s trip to Livingston this midweek, so they will likely be 21 ahead coming weekend.
Much has been said about James Tavernier’s goals and assists so far in this campaign and plenty of eyes have been on their front three.
But it is their defensive solidity that has served them so well until now, and a constant in the Gers backline has been the impressive Connor Goldson.
Goldson was lauded a ‘future Rangers captain’ in pre-season by boss Steven Gerrard and has skippered the Ibrox side at times this term in Tavernier’s absence.
The Light Blues have conceded just seven times in their 24 league outings this season, with only ex-Motherwell man Chris Lang finding the net as an opposition player at Ibrox.
Goldson has been at the heart of everything good Rangers have done defensively this season, alongside seasoned-pro Allan McGregor behind him.
But he’s not just a colossus in defence. Goldson has three goals and an assist in the Premiership – matching his totals for last season – with a further three goals in Gers’ European adventure thus far.
The 28-year-old has had his playing partner chopped and changed between Leon Balogun and Filip Helander but his place has never been in doubt.
Goldson has played every minute of Rangers’ dominant campaign.
Charlie Harris says: Kevin Nisbet
Kevin Nisbet has had one hell of a season so far. The Hibernian striker has taken to Premiership football in impressive fashion – already putting himself amongst the best in the league in just his first season in the top flight.
Nisbet has an impressive 11 goals to his name so far, making him the joint top scorer in the league with Rangers captain James Tavernier. He averages a goal every two games; an elusive stat that every striker aims for. This gives him a better goal per minute ratio than players like Alfredo Morelos, Ryan Kent and Mohamed Elyanoussi – not bad company to be in.
One feature of Nisbet’s game which is particularly effective is his shot accuracy. His 57% accuracy is high, and when compared to other players with similar amounts of goals scored, it puts him among the best in the league; only Odsonne Edouard and Kemar Roofe have comparatively better shot accuracy. This shows how dangerous he is in front of goal.
The forward’s journey to Hibs has hardly been straight forward; making his rise to the top of the Scottish game all the more impressive. A make-or-break season at League 1 Raith Rovers in 2018 saw him notch 34 goals, followed by a 23-goal campaign at Dunfermline last season. Nisbet is clearly a goalscorer at any level.
And now, with Scotland qualifying for a men’s major tournament for the first time in a generation, Nisbet must surely be in Steve Clarke’s thoughts ahead of this summer’s European Championships. It is likely to come down taking the place of Lawrence Shankland or Leigh Griffiths, but if Nisbet continues his fine form for the rest of the season, the place could be his.
This concludes our four candidates. Do you agree with us, or do you think the accolade should go elsewhere? Have your say by clicking on the link below; results will be posted over the coming days.