The differences in expenditure between clubs in the respective top tiers, north and south of the border, are so far long gone out of sight that to even attempt to make comparisons is sheer folly.
Many Scottish fans look on, puzzled, at the casual exchange of fripperies occurring between top English sides for players who, for increasingly inexplicable reasons, somehow command extraordinary transfer fees.
Take Everton, a particularly busy club in the opening of the transfer window this week, with their swoop for Rangers’ Nathan Patterson, for instance. It is quite baffling that a solid Scotland international, with a big career ahead of him, has moved to the Toffees for an initial fee of around £10m.
Yet they are also linked with Todd Cantwell, a show pony with Norwich City for double that amount. Just to recap — Cantwell earns his keep with the Canaries, languishing at the foot of the Premier League and are, barring a miracle, doomed to the Championship. How perceptions are easily skewed.
For years, both Rangers and Celtic have had to be ingenious when it comes to player recruitment, with so much established talent down south off limits due to the aforementioned cocooned, self-satisfied, hyper-inflated transfer market.
Hence Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou acting fast lately in terms of drafting in a Japanese trio who he knows well from his time in charge of Yokohama F Marinos. With Kyogo Furuhashi firmly established as a Parkhead pin-up, Postecoglou’s intuition is, so far, appearing to give him a head start on other, wealthier outfits. And Celtic will be the handsome beneficiaries later.
Rangers have, meanwhile, made their first signing under Giovanni van Bronckhorst, bringing in United States international James Sands from New York City. The move appears to be a shrewd one from the Ibrox club. Firstly, Sands is on an 18-month loan, with an option to buy at the end of the period, an attractive proposal for the Old Firm clubs, perhaps understandably more wary of lashing out large fees from the outset. Celtic, with Jota on loan from Benfica for example, is another bit of business of a similar nature — and it would be a dereliction of duty if the Hoops didn’t conclude the permanent signing of the Portuguese winger who has been such a star in the Premiership before suffering a recent hamstring injury.
Sands is expected to be a versatile player when eventually given the chance at Rangers. Comfortable in midfield and centre-back, and with seven caps for the USA, it is easy to see why the Light Blues were determined to beat off competition from other European clubs. It also helps that the Ibrox club have had success with historical transatlantic swoops. Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra and Maurice Edu have all, at one time, left good impressions in Glasgow.
Necessity, then, is often the mother of invention — even for Rangers. Their scouting network has become, over recent seasons, an impressively sophisticated operation. Frankly, it has to be. Thinking one or two transfer windows ahead, the leafy surroundings of Fulham’s Motspur Park training complex might not be the most obvious place to meet a Rangers scout as this observer did recently, but Ross Wilson, the Ibrox Sporting Director, has a network of trusted spies keeping tabs on all players at all levels.
Unearthing promising gems — even the odd one from the English game — is a main way forward to success, as well as strengthening an academy set-up which produced Patterson.
The 20-year-old has looked terrific, rampaging down the right for club and country when called upon — but the timing for the player was clearly unfortunate.
Manager Van Bronckhorst has seen enough of Gers captain James Tavernier to know he is still the preferred right-back option and has more to offer to this season’s title defence and beyond.
As Everton look forward to harnessing Patterson for what is, for them, loose change in the hope he becomes their Scottish equivalent of Andy Robertson at Liverpool and Kieran Tierney at Arsenal, a note of credit to Shaun Maloney who has thought more frugally and outside the box for Hibernian.
The new Hibees chief has just brought in Elias Melkersen from Bodo/Glimt.
In fact, considering the nominal fee to take the Norway Under-20 striker to Easter Road, perhaps both of the Old Firm sides have missed a rare trick here?