Scotland’s two biggest teams, Celtic and Rangers, have the means to support some of their ambitions. Most of their Scottish rivals do not.
“Juhani Ojala knew he would have to wait. Travel restrictions were still in place in Scotland when, in the middle of July, the Finnish defender agreed to join Motherwell, a club of modest means and sober ambitions in the country’s top division. Upon landing, Ojala knew, he would have to spend 10 days isolating in a hotel before joining his new teammates. … All of that changed in January, when — four and a half years after the Brexit referendum — Britain formally, and finally, left the European Union. As of that moment, clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland no longer had the untrammeled access to players from its 26 member states (a different set of rules apply to Ireland) they had enjoyed since the 1990s. …”
“As the Harry Kane transfer saga rumbled on in the background, the scene on the pitch for last weekend’s Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City clash was more typical of modern football. With no Kane available, Tottenham used Son Heung-min up front. With their pursuit of Kane so far unsuccessful, City used Ferran Torres up front. Son and Torres are both generally regarded as wide players. That’s not to say they’re not sporadically prolific — each one scored a Premier League hat-trick last season, and both say they’re perfectly happy playing through the middle. But neither is anything like traditional No 9s: they drop off, they come short and they make runs into the channels. …”
“The first alarm rang in February, a warning from thousands of miles away. Jiangsu Suning was one of the mainstays of that strange period, five or six years ago, when soccer awoke — almost overnight — to discover that China had arrived, its pockets bottomless and its ambitions unchecked, intent on inverting the world. At first, Europe saw this new horizon as it sees everything: as a market. China’s corporate-backed clubs were, as Turkey’s and Russia’s had been years before, a convenience and a curiosity, a place where they could offload unwanted players from bloated squads. …”