Calvin Ramsay is a Scottish full-back with a difference.
With Andy Robertson established as one of the world’s finest left-backs at Liverpool, Kieran Tierney well on his way to joining him in that bracket at Arsenal, and Aaron Hickey impressing in Serie A with Bologna, it is clear there are an abundance of talented left-sided options at Steve Clarke's disposal.
Ramsay, though, promises a similar standard of player on the right – a role that has been a problem position for the international team for years.
Having turned 18 right at the beginning of the 2021-22 season, Ramsay has gone from strength to strength in an Aberdeen side that has, on the whole, disappointed in the Premiership.
His quality is underlined by the statistic that Ramsay, with eight assists in all competitions, is only eclipsed by three players in terms of teenage goal creators in top-flight European football this season: Bayer Leverkusen ace Florian Wirtz, Sparta Prague sensation Adam Hlozek and Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Jude Bellingham. Impressive company, indeed.
Little wonder, then, that the scramble to sign the young Scot has been intense.
Aberdeen are understood to have knocked back bids from Leeds United, Leicester City and Bologna already, while Manchester United, Newcastle and Tottenham have been keeping close tabs on a player who only made his senior debut in March 2021 in a Scottish Cup trip to Dumbarton.
Ramsay’s most obvious qualities are those he provides going forwards. His distribution is excellent over a variety of ranges, he is a strong set-piece taker and his willingness to attack opposing defenders is more reminiscent of a winger than a full-back.
He is also blessed with excellent ability on both feet. This was amply demonstrated as Aberdeen posted a tweet of him scoring a stunning 30-yard strike with his weaker left foot while playing for the youth team.
A strong runner, he looks every inch the modern full-back, with a style reminiscent of those at the very top of the game, such as Trent Alexander-Arnold or Kyle Walker. There is a long way to go before he hits such heights, but the intent and desire is there.
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“His quality of delivery from set-pieces and open play has brought him plenty of assists for Aberdeen. For someone so young to come in and make the impact he has is a great credit to him,” former Dons boss Derek McInnes told The Scotsman.
“We had earmarked this season as his turn to make the breakthrough and he has taken these opportunities brilliantly.”
Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack has also been particularly vocal over the quality of player that the club have on their hands, enthusing in December: “He’s a lovely kid who looks after himself and has his feet on the ground. And he can use both feet!
“There’s not many right-backs like him at that age doing what he does when you look at all the data. All these clubs look at the same systems. They will have seen the same things that we have: that he’s in the elite upper bracket for a young right-back in Europe. He's right up there across Europe, and they are seeing that.”
Little wonder Aberdeen are proud of him. Ramsay joined the club as a nine-year-old and has emerged through their academy system to graduate to Scotland Under-21 honours – skipping the step of playing for the U19s side along the way.
Even before he had kicked a ball for the first team, he had also been given a major vote of confidence with a contract that runs until 2024.
Videos have been posted on social media of the young Ramsay training with a ball wearing an Aberdeen shirt in his garden at just 13, showing footwork and a technical gift that many much older boys would be envious of. He is a player his coaches have earmarked for years, and thanks to his hard work, their efforts are being rewarded.
As with many young players, though, Ramsay’s trajectory has not been linear. A hamstring injury suffered in October sent him to the sidelines for the best part of two months, and since he has returned, he has struggled to recapture the sparkling form he displayed in the early weeks of the season.
Of course, the constant noise over his future has not helped
“It has definitely affected him a touch, I think anyone can see that,” manager Stephen Glass said. “I am not surprised it has affected him a little bit, being only 18 and the first time he has been through this.”
During his time, the weaknesses in his game have become more apparent. He must bulk up physically before he is ready for the top level – something that can be easily remedied by some hard work in the gym – and he must work on his defensive attributes, particularly in terms of aerial duels and tackle success.
Given the right coaching and mentorship, though, he has the capacity to make it all the way to the top of the game, and with the correct application and perhaps a little luck, there is no reason he cannot match the achievements of Robertson and Tierney in the Premier League.