Dundee United’s big-money deadline day offer for Dunfermline star Kevin Nisbet confirmed the search for Lawrence Shankland’s replacement was well underway.
Courier Sport’s Eric Nicolson broke the story on Friday night and the initial response from the Tannadice faithful, certainly on social media, was a positive one.
After all, 22-year-old Nisbet isn’t far behind Shankland, 24, in the scoring stakes this season.
The former Raith Rovers man has 22 goals from 30 appearances, with the United hero hitting the back of the net 28 times for club and country in the same number of games as his Championship counterpart.
Thanks to Shankland’s remarkable form and increasingly high profile, the Tangerines’ efforts to fill their star player’s shoes – when he eventually departs Tannadice – will intrigue fans across the country.
Dundee United sporting director Tony Asghar and the club’s owners know replacing such influential players, particularly strikers of stature, is an enormous task.
Beneath every Odsonne Edouard taking up the mantle from Moussa Dembele at Celtic lies a bona fide transfer calamity a la Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres at Liverpool.
The sums may be a million miles away in this part of the world but the importance of such a decision, in the eyes of the supporters, is anything but.
United, on course for a top-flight return, could face a battle with Hibs if they go back in for Nisbet.
The Easter Road club submitted a £350,000 offer plus £150,000 worth of add-ons for the striker on transfer deadline day, with the Championship leaders going even higher.
In November, reports claimed Rangers scouts had also watched Nisbet, under contract until 2021, in action.
Last week Tangerines owner Mark Ogren told the BBC: “If the situation was right for both Lawrence and the club then we would be open to a situation where he could leave in the summer.”
Who else, other than Nisbet, could fill the void?
A list of soon-to-be Premiership free agents features Motherwell’s Chris Long and Tony Watt, who recently signed a deal with the Fir Park side until the end of the campaign.
Ex-Hamilton striker Rakish Bingham last week joined United on a short-term contract and may remain with Robbie Neilson’s squad but the 26-year-old has never been prolific.
Could United monitor Marc McNulty’s situation at Hibs?
The Scotland striker, who scored a Scottish Cup hat-trick against BSC Glasgow at the weekend, is back on loan in the capital from Reading where he has just over two years left on his deal.
Will Celtic’s Vakoun Bayo, targeted by St Mirren on transfer deadline day, look to go out on loan next season if he remains fourth in the attacking pecking order behind Edouard, Leigh Griffiths and Patryk Klimala?
If so, will he be on Neilson’s radar?
The size of the Shankland challenge ahead for Dundee United was recently laid bare by Parkhead legend Frank McAvennie.
He believes that United have an English Premier League player on their hands.
McAvennie told Courier Sport: “I can’t believe a top Championship club or a Premier League club near the bottom of the table didn’t come in for him in the transfer window.”
“Rangers and Celtic want him but I’d tell him to go to England. We’ve got guys like Andy Robertson, John Fleck, John McGinn and Ryan Fraser doing really well down south, Shankland is the next one.”
The key question for United fans is, who will be the next Lawrence Shankland?