Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign full-back Tony Gallacher from Scottish Championship side Falkirk.
The 18-year-old will cost the Reds £200,000 and he’ll join up with the club’s academy at Kirkby.
To find out more about the teenager, I spoke to David Oliver from the Falkirk Herald. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What type of left-back is Tony Gallacher? Liverpool currently have Andy Robertson and Alberto Moreno as first-team left-backs, both of whom like to attack and are probably a bit more inclined to get forward than to defend. Is Tony in that mould, or is he more defensive, say like Joe Gomez who we sometimes play at right-back?
Tony is fairly attacking as a wing-back. Before him at Falkirk were Stephen Kingsley (now at Hull via Swansea) and Luke Leahy (Walsall). Kingsley was great defensively and swung in great crosses from deep. Leahy was a converted forward switched to left-back so he too liked to get up the park. So far, Gallacher isn’t quite as much of an attacking threat as those two were when going forward but he’s attacking enough and keen to link up with play further up the field, but he’s definitely a left-sided defender or wing-back, not a winger.
2. Gallacher has played regularly for the Falkirk first-team this season, despite his young age. How’s he performed overall?
It’s been a bit of a baptism of fire for him. The team has struggled badly this season which didn’t help his development as first choice left-back. Last year, he was in and out of the side for periods and performed really, really well when he was pitched in. He went a little off the boil when the Barcelona furore took over a year ago and he lost his place to Leahy again, but was still a dependable go-to-guy when needed. Starting the season as the first-choice in his position, and in a struggling team, he’s found it difficult to maintain that form consistently and he has struggled for form, and so has again been in and out the side.
3. What would you say are his main strengths?
It’s a bit of a cliche but he is mature beyond his years. For an 18-year-old he is incredibly composed. Last season, when he was pitched in, he sailed through games comfortably, like a seasoned professional who’d been playing for years and knew his trade inside out. This year hasn’t been as easy for him, but then the team around him hasn’t found things easy either. He is very cool and calm on the ball. He has a huge upside at just 18. He’s a great athlete and decent going forward. He has still a lot to work on but he has incredible potential.
YouTube: TONY GALLACHER | Falkirk | Tackles, Skills, Assists | 2016/2017 (HD)
4. Conversely, are there any issues in his game that you think the Liverpool coaching staff will need to work with him on?
He’s still very young and still quite slight and has yet to fill out. He has grown up a lot in the past 12-18 months but there’s still more to go. In football terms, his defending will need more work than his attacking, but he seems to have a really good attitude so I’m sure that will come. He’s a really pleasant, intelligent, level-headed lad off the field.
5. How do you think Falkirk fans will react to see that one of their first-team players has been sold?
Falkirk fans will be disappointed to see another Academy prospect leave, but few will begrudge him a move to a club with the stature of Liverpool. The fans take great pride in seeing their young players progress through the system and play for the first team before being picked up by big clubs. That won’t change with Tony. He’s a nice, young guy and his efforts will have been appreciated. Paul Hartley has come in as manager and signed his own left back from Sunderland – Tommy Robson – and he has been great since coming in, so while there’s a mix of pride and disappointment, his loss won’t be felt too hard on the field if Robson continues to play well.
6. Finally, in modern football, £200,000 isn’t a great amount for a top Premier League side, but it will certainly help Falkirk. Was there a need for them to cash in or do you think they could have waited and possibly got more money for him, especially as there are rumours that a number of clubs were interested?
It’s a bugbear of Falkirk fans that having had a highly regarded Academy, the transfer fees received have been dwarfed by the likes of Hamilton, a similar sized club, selling James McCarthy and James McArthur to English sides. However, the club has had its fingers burned in the past so cashing in at this stage, with another left-back in place and doing well, seems like the right move.
It is now the strategy for the club. The money isn’t significant for the likes of Liverpool but it is for Falkirk and that shows the gulf between the sides. It also shows the jump that Gallacher is making so it would be wrong for the club to stand in his way too.
He’ll go with the best wishes of the club and fans (and me) in the hope that he can follow in the footsteps of Stephen Kingsley and Scott Arfield in achieving success in their moves south, and also have the success another Scottish left-back, Andy Robertson, has enjoyed at Liverpool.