When Oliver Burke transferred from Nottingham Forest to Red Bull Leipzig this summer for £13M, the 19-year-old became the most expensive Scottish footballer in history. The player who he replaced as the record signing, Matt Ritchie, believes that Scotland may have found their own version of Gareth Bale and that he can go on to replicate his success.
If you saw Burke away from the pitch or for the first time you would presume he was either a central defender or forward due to being over six feet tall and broad shouldered. In actual fact he is a wide attacker / winger who has excellent pace and is very skillful on the ball. This along with his technique and size is why Ritchie along with many others have compared him with the Welsh wizard.
His former teammate, Thomas Lam said: “He is a great talent and potentially a great player. He is a similar player to Gareth Bale. I do not want to say he is definitely going to be as good as him, but you can see the similarities there – he does scare the life out of opponents.”
The comparisons with Bale are no surprise to Scotland’s assistant manager, Mark McGhee, who said “The first time I saw him on the training pitch, I was licking my lips. There was something really special about him – his movement, his size, his ball control.”
These comparisons are understandable as the young Scottish winger has explosive pace, raw power and an eye for goal. This was evident after only a few games for Forest as Championship defences were struggling to cope with him as he became a regular in Dougie Freedman’s squad. This season under new manager, Philippe Montanier, he became a fixture in the starting line-up and started with a bang scoring four goals in five games.
Towards the end of the summer transfer window, Burke was being linked with the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Liverpool but it was Red Bull Leipzig that moved first and secured his signature.
“He’s exactly the sort of player we were looking for.” said Red Bull Leipzig Sporting Director, Ralf Rangnick. “We’re delighted that we have managed to lure such a talented player away from England. He’s tall, incredibly quick. Outstanding. He’s got lots of promise for the future.”
Red Bull Leipzig were only founded in 2009. Since then they have risen through the German leagues with four promotions in seven seasons and now find themselves in the Bundesliga. This has all been possible due to the backing of Red Bull GmbH who have lofty ambitions to take the Saxony club to the Champions League.
The club have already signed several exciting prospects such as Naby Keita, Yussuf Poulsen, Timo Werner and Davie Selke. It is also the club where Joshua Kimmich made his first steps in German football. They have all been attracted to Saxony by Red Bull Leipzig’s philosophy to develop talent and play expansive attractive football.
Only time will tell whether Burke will develop into Scotland’s answer to Gareth Bale. However, he will be surrounded by like-minded young hungry players who are all looking to impress and push their careers forward under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhüttl. He is in the perfect environment to develop and also at a club who will give him a chance to play regularly.