Date of Birth: 05.06.1997 (19 years old)
Position: Left Back
Value: 500.000 €
Contract Until: 30.06.2021
Height: 1,78 m
One of the recent remarkable alumni of Celtic’s academy is Kieran Tierney, who developed himself to one of the irreplaceable defenders of his team. During 2014-2015 season, he started to train with Celtic’s first team and on 22nd of April 2015 he came on from the bench to play the last nine minutes of the 2-1 win against Dundee, which was his first professional match. In his first season Tierney only played in 2 matches, however the next season (2015-2016) he was able to play more often. Scottish left-back played in total 33 matches, of which 23 matches were in the league, 4 in European competitions and 6 in domestic cup. In these matches he scored a goal and provided 8 assists (6 in the league & 2 in the cup), which are impressive numbers for a player his age. In 2016/2017 season, he played in 16 matches, in which he started in the starting lineup and played for all 90 minutes. In these matches he provided in total of 7 assists, of which 4 were in his 7 league matches, 1 in his 6 Champions League qualification matches, 1 in 2 matches in the Champions League (which were against Barcelona and Man. City) and another assist in his sole game in the domestic cup.
Even though he didn’t play often for the national teams in his younger ages, on 29th of March 2016 as he was only 18 years old, he played for the first time in the first squad of Scottish national team against Denmark. He played as the left-back of 4-4-2 formation and got substituted after 45 minutes. Prior to this match, he played one game for the U18 team and three for the U19 team of Scotland. In these three games with U19 squad, he was the left-back or left midfielder in 4-3-3 formation and left-back in 4-2-3-1 formation, in which he found the back of net once.
Strengths (Energetic, Strong frame, Chasing the Opponent, Positioning)
Looking at his attacking strengths, it can be stated that his crosses are very effective for a defender. His curved crosses into the box for his teammates create dangerous possessions for the opposition. Per match he crosses on average 3.5 times and he is successful at 36% of these, this is why he had 7 assists in 16 matches. Besides when the team is starting a counterattack, he likes to run down the pitch as quick as possible to support the player playing as left midfielder (usually Sinclair); sometimes he tries to play long passes for his partner on the left wing as well. During the matches of Celtic this season, both of the players’ traits of being fast and energetic helped the team using the left wing very effectively.
If we take a look at the defensive skills of the left-back with a great potential, we can claim that besides his good positioning skills, he also is very successful at chasing his opponent fully concentrated. Moreover, in a league like the Scottish league, where the level of physicality is very high, Tierney does not lose his challenges with his opponents, which indicates his strong physique. Statistically seen, he wins 60% of his challenges per game. Also being very successful at cutting the passes from opponents, which are being played behind the centre-backs, the young left-back’s energetic and non-stop playing style helps his team to be more active on both ends of the game. In addition to all of these traits, using his advantages of being strong and fast, he dribbles very effectively with his left foot if he finds the free room.
Weaknesses (Too much Pressing, Weak Right Foot, Calmness Issues, Ball Control)
We can tell for Kieran Tierney that his right foot is very weak considering the strength of his left foot. In some occasions, in which he needs to cross the ball with his right foot, he either crosses very weakly with his right foot or he tries the cross the ball with his strong left foot which causes a delay for the flow of the attack. Since he is a young player, for the sake of reaching his potential he should develop his weak foot.
Tierney grabs the attention as a footballer, who works non-stop for 90 minutes during a match. However, it sometimes occurs that even though the opponent, who he covers, goes back to his own half to get the pass Tierney still follows him. This leads to free spaces in the left wing, so another opponent can get the ball in this area where he should actually have been at. This “chasing-the-opponent” phenomenon causes especially big problems against opponents like Manchester City or Barcelona, against which Celtic tries to defend with a compact defensive line, since Tierney would stand further Celtic’s defensive line. Also in these kind of matches, when a quick-paced opponent puts pressure on him, he loses his calmness and loses possession. But it should be mentioned, that this issue can be easily solved with more playing experience. Also he has to improve his ball control; sometimes his first touch causes him easy turnovers which leads to counterattacks of the opposition.
Similar Players: Marcel Schmelzer (Dortmund), Leighton Baines (Everton), Caner Erkin (Beşiktaş)
It is a fact, that it is very difficult to find another footballer, who is similar to Kieran Tierney considering his skills and physique. However because of his strong frame, positioning abilities and high work rate we can compare Tierney with the left-back of Borussia Dortmund, Marcel Schmelzer. Also his attacking rate as well as his successful coordination with his left midfielder reminds of Leighton Baines from Everton. If we should find a similar left-back to Tierney from Turkey, it would be Caner Erkin. Both are comparable considering their abilities of making successful curved crosses, creating dangerous possessions for teammates inside of the box and pressing in the half of their opponents.