Dundee United are keen to bring back Nadir Ciftci in the January transfer window.
The striker is one of many high profile departures from the club in recent years. There have been some big moves, big fees and big flops.
Here is a team of 11 former players (without a goalkeeper) who have brought in around £13 million of transfer fees, ranked in ascending order of career success post-Tannadice.
11 David Goodwillie
Off-field matters aside, a player of Goodwillie’s quality shouldn’t be playing (and not scoring) with Plymouth Argyle at the peak of his career. He’s had seven clubs since being sold for around £2 million – including a loan back to United – and you couldn’t say he’s been a success at any of them. Only one of life’s great optimists would see Goodwillie adding to his three Scotland caps. He hasn’t yet scored for Plymouth. If not a talent wasted, it’s certainly been a talent unfulfilled.
10 Nadir Ciftci
It’s hard to view his time at Celtic as anything other than a failure. Ciftci needed to hit the ground running after signing for Ronny Deila. He started four Champions League qualifiers in a row but scored in none – and was loaned out to Turkish side Eskihesirspor within six months. Despite Brendan Rodgers talking him up in the summer, Ciftci didn’t seize his second chance and has been nowhere near the first team since. He needs a move, even though it’s unlikely to be back to United.
9 Scott Allan
Allan left United before he had actually established himself and his career would probably have been better if he’d showed more patience. He only actually played eight times. Nothing happened for him at West Brom, Portsmouth, MK Dons or Birmingham but there was a dramatic upturn when he returned north of the border with Hibs. It earned Allan a move to Celtic but there was always the suspicion that the Parkhead club were flexing their muscles to deny Rangers the player and his lack of game-time under Ronny Deila and subsequent loan to Rotherham would back up that theory. They might not have been happy at the time but £400,000 for Allan seems pretty good business for United now.
8 Jon Daly
Moving to Rangers will never go down well with United fans but that’s what Daly did in the summer of 2013 after his contract ran out. The Glasgow club got Daly beyond his peak and, even though his goals to games ratio wasn’t too shabby in the lower leagues, you wouldn’t describe his two year spell as a success. The Irishman felt he “wasn’t really given a chance at Ibrox.” United were good for Daly and Daly was good for United.
7 Gary Mackay-Steven
Mackay-Steven scored on his Celtic debut but has never truly convinced in the green and white. Most United fans probably aren’t surprised as, like many wingers, he struggled for consistency. There were also question marks over his mental strength. Just when you thought a January exit was inevitable under a manager who hadn’t even seen him play because of injury, GMS performed very well when thrown a jersey for the Champions league dead rubber in Manchester a couple of weeks ago. The smart money would still be on him leaving, if not next month then in the summer.
6 Ryan Gauld
Most United fans agreed that Stephen Thompson struck a great deal in bringing in around £3 million for Gauld, and there was genuine pride that a boy who had come through the youth ranks at Tannadice hadn’t taken the usual route to the Old Firm or down south. He was far from the finished article though when he was sold to Sporting Lisbon. ‘Mini Messi’ hasn’t come close yet to becoming a Sporting first team regular and is currently on loan at Vitoria Setubal, where he is beginning to make an impression. Gauld is as sensible as footballers come and is playing the long game, recently stating that he has “learned 10 times more” than he would have done had he stayed in Scotland. An attitude like that will work in his favour and there’s still a decent chance that he can make the grade at Sporting.
5 John Souttar
He was always mentioned in the same breath as his best pal Ryan Gauld but by the time the older of the Souttar brothers left United for Hearts there was a different feeling. The move was best for both parties, with the player struggling to live up to his early hype and nail down a position and the general frustration from the stands at a rapidly deteriorating team didn’t miss Souttar. He’s now a first choice at centre-back with Hearts, however, playing the best football of his short career. A Scotland call-up has also been talked about. You would have imagined Ray McKinnon would have loved to have had Souttar still at Tannadice.
4 Barry Douglas
Jackie McNamara wanted to keep him but back in 2013 Barry Douglas took the courageous decision to try his luck in Poland with Lech Poznan. He proved the doubters wrong and won a league winners’ medal, Polish Super Cup and played in Champions League qualifiers and the Europa League group stage. Now in Turkey, Douglas has been a rare Scottish success story abroad.
3 Johnny Russell
You won’t hear a United supporter with a bad word to say about Russell. Gave his all for the Tangerines and earned a good move to Derby County. He remains a first team regular in a team that has been revived by the return of manager Steve McClaren. Russell has deserved more Scotland caps and it would be intriguing to see how he would get on in the English Premier League.
2 Stuart Armstrong
The change in Armstrong under Brendan Rodgers is a big tribute to the Irishman’s coaching and man management skills. He’s been a player transformed since getting a chance in his favoured central position. Many suspected that Armstrong was the best of the bunch to leave United in recent years and he’s backing that argument up now. He’s one of Celtic’s most important players now and surely will become a Scotland regular.
1 Andy Robertson
Armstrong’s star is on the rise but Andy Robertson has to be the number one. He was only at United for a season but was a class act. United made a lot of money (nearly three million) on a modest investment and there will be more to come when he gets another move to a top half of the table English Premier League club, which is likely to happen. He’ll have Celtic’s Kieran Tierney to battle with for the Scotland number three shirt over the next few years but Robertson should be a 50-plus cap Hampden Hall of Famer by the time he’s done.