It’s been a phenomenal campaign for David Turnbull. The Motherwell midfielder has shone brightest for the Scottish outfit this season, in what has proven to be a truly remarkable year for not only him but the North Lanarkshire club as a whole. The local lad has stepped up time and again when others couldn’t. Bossing the midfield, pulling strings and even outscoring the majority of the league’s top strikers, there’s been no stopping the young Scotsman. At just 19 years old, Turnbull has a hugely promising future ahead of him, and a chance of top-class football may just persuade him to join a top-class side south of the border.
Despite only breaking into the first team this season after spending his younger years in the club’s youth setup, the number 28 has been linked with a host of teams in both Scotland and England and, going on what he has produced for Stephen Robinson’s side in 2018/2019, it’s obvious to see why. His fantastic tally of 15 goals from central midfield saw him place as the third top goalscorer in the Scottish Premiership, unsurprisingly surrounded by strikers from three of the top four teams in the league. Add to that his six assists, the fact that his side finished in the bottom half of the table, it’s quite an astonishing feat, one that certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Just shy of his 20th birthday, he somehow failed to collect the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year, losing out to Liverpool’s on-loan Rangers winger Ryan Kent. There was some justice, however, as the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year award found its way to Turnbull, who fought off fierce competition from teammate Jake Hastie, who himself has revelled in the right of the midfield.
The pair knew each other all too well, having progressed through the youth teams together, and showed their early signs of promise by helping ‘Well to their first ever Scottish Youth Cup in 2016. Just three years later and Hastie has opted to move on to pastures new to join the Steven Gerrard revolution at Ibrox, and it may not be long until his old pal has followed him out the door. It’s been a somewhat bewildering campaign for the Fir Park outfit who, thanks to the efforts of their young prodigies, went on an extraordinary run of form mid-season, only to tail off drastically to finish eighth, albeit with their highest points total in five years.
On a personal note for Turnbull, his goalscoring exploits and various distinctive match-winning traits were rewarded with a contract extension until summer 2021. Both parties have been forced to concede, however, if this may not be fulfilled, even the highest members of the Motherwell board would be unable to prevent their young talent from going to a much bigger club in comparison. Fortunately, they’ve placed quite an excessive bounty on his head, with the club demanding that their record £1.75m received from Celtic for Phil O’Donnell in 1994 be surpassed. It’s certainly not the multi-millions that we see being splashed about on the daily, but to a club like Motherwell, who pride themselves on producing talent from within, it will undoubtedly go a long way.
It’s happened before and will happen again, but it’s becoming near-impossible to fend off the vultures that look to swoop in and steal their prey from the well-drilled academies, with Amsterdam’s finest surely the latest to soon experience a vast raid on their prodigious group of rising stars.
Already a Scotland youth international, a senior call up won’t be too far away for this young talent, which may just give the Tartan Army that extra push in their bid to be cheerful again. With a new manager at the helm, and their much-needed blend of English and Scottish league representation in Andy Robertson, Ryan Fraser, Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Celtic trio Kieran Tierney, James Forrest and Callum McGregor, a Euro 2020 spot might not be as far fetched as it sounds right now. For Turnbull, however, now is about keeping both feet on the ground, which won’t be easy considering he’s now only the second Motherwell player to pick up the SFWA prize for the league’s best young player. Add to that the small matter of cleaning up at the club’s awards night, where the Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, Top Goalscorer and Goal of the Season trophies all went his way.
Shocks were few and far between in another season of Scottish football dominance from Celtic, but Turnbull’s performances certainly upset the usual suspects in more ways than one. Maybe he’ll follow other Scottish and indeed English youngsters and make the trip abroad to one of Europe’s top leagues, which would be hugely refreshing to see. Whatever happens, though, David Turnbull won’t be at Motherwell for long.
Feature Image via Motherwell FC
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