Scotland have produced an array of full-back talent in recent years, with Nathan Patterson becoming the latest full-back exported from the Scottish Premiership when Everton snapped up the right-back from Rangers in January.
Although he has yet to make his mark on Merseyside, Patterson is following in the footsteps of Andy Robertson, who moved from Dundee United to Liverpool, via Hull City, and Kieran Tierney, who joined Arsenal from Celtic in 2019.
Aaron Hickey, 19, could also join Scotland’s Premier League full-back contingent next season too, with Arsenal one of several clubs lining up a summer move for the former Hearts man following his impressive form in Serie A Bologna side for the past two seasons.
With this year’s Scottish Premiership now over, I’ve picked three young players from this season’s campaign who could be the next Scottish full-back in line for a big move, using data to gauge their performance.
The dataset I used for this data analysis includes all full-backs and full-backs who have played at least 1,000 minutes in this year’s Scottish Premiership.
Data is taken from Wyscout and Python is used to convert numbers per 90 minutes to percentile ranks. The percentile ranks are then presented in a pizza chart to visualize their performance on several key metrics.
#1 Calvin Ramsey (18) – Aberdeen
No real surprise who I picked first here. Widely expected for the Premier League this summer, Aberdeen’s Calvin Ramsey has enjoyed a breakthrough year, catching the eye of elite clubs across Europe despite the Dons’ below-average season.
Ramsey, who has played at right-back in Aberdeen’s 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 this season, comes across as a modern full-back with very impressive numbers for attacking parameters.
As his pizza chart shows, Ramsey is a high-volume cruiser, capable of producing quality deliveries from different areas of the field. His accuracy score for his crossing is above average for Scottish Premiership level but could still be improved.
With an impressive output of 6 assists and 1 goal this season, Ramsey ranks highly in goal contributions and expected goal contributions.
His exceptional ball-carrying ability also shines through with one of the highest scores among any full-back/full-back in the league for runs (a combination of dribbling and progressive runs).
Defensively, his dueling success rates are relatively low, and while he ranks above average in positioning (blocked shots and PAdj interceptions), it’s clear that the defensive side of the game is where Ramsey can improve the most. At just 18, those improvements will come with time.
With Liverpool and Leeds United reportedly leading the way to sign Ramsey this summer, it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop if he takes a big step so early in his career.
Josh Doig (19) – Hibernian
The next player I have chosen is Hibernian’s Josh Doig, who has been attracting interest from clubs across the continent since breaking into the Hibs squad last season.
Although Hibernian also had a difficult season, finishing in the last six like Aberdeen, the left-back continued to produce impressive performances for the Easter Road club.
As we can see from his pizza charts, Doig, who has also played at centre-back and left midfield this season, has a rounded full-back profile. He has stable defensive numbers and scores around average on most possession metrics.
Like Ramsey though, Doig’s strengths lie in his offensive abilities. He is a high volume cruiser, with an average percentile rank for his accuracy. He also ranks very well for runs, and while his goal contribution rating is low (he has registered 3 assists throughout the season without a goal), his expected goal contribution rating is around the league average for his position.
Again, like Ramsey, Doig can still improve in a few areas of his game. However, it’s also worth putting his numbers for the season in the context that he’s been used in a few different positions and systems.
Those impressive attacking qualities are still on display and, having won his first international call-up earlier this season, Doig will no doubt be on the shortlist of several clubs across Europe.
#3 Jack MacKenzie (21) – Aberdeen
The final player I picked is another Aberdeen player, 21-year-old left-back Jack MacKenzie.
MacKenzie, like Ramsey, is a product of Aberdeen Academy. He also had a breakthrough season at Pittodrie, overcoming injury problems earlier in the year to become a first-team regular.
A few years older, MacKenzie is shaping up to be a more traditional full-back with solid defensive percentile ranks, especially for his defensive duel win, % and also his positioning (blocked shots and PAdj interceptions).
While not as effective offensively (1 assist and 1 goal this season), MacKenzie’s cross accuracy rating is only slightly lower than Ramsey and Doig’s, while his running rating is also above the league average.
Ramsey and Doig have higher ranks for dangerous passes (key passes and through passes) and progressive passes, but MacKenzie seems to be very secure in possession, with one of the highest ranks of any full-back/ full-backs in the league. for his success, %.
A different side-back profile than the other two highlighted in this piece, MacKenzie is also worth highlighting.
With a contract extension until 2025 signed last December, Aberdeen certainly believes he has the potential to become a top full-back.
These three players have the potential to follow a similar path to Robertson, Tierney and Patterson in the future.
Calvin Ramsey and Josh Doig could well secure transfers to a bigger league this summer, while scouts from the league’s top 5 clubs could also monitor Jack MacKenzie’s progress.
Whichever path these players take next, there is likely to be an abundance of full-back talent for the Scotland national team to choose from for years to come.