Race for Scales hots up as Premier League clubs challenge Celtic for Rovers ace

Hoops head coach Stephen Bradley reveals 22-year-old defender might not be destined for Celtic Park after record €600,000 bid.

Liam Scales is a man in demand.
Liam Scales is a man in demand.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

THE HUNT FOR Liam Scales’ signature has intensified with confirmation that there is now solid Premier League interest in signing the Shamrock Rovers defender.

Celtic opened discussions with the Hoops earlier this week after a bid understood to be a League of Ireland record in the region of €600,000.

Scales, who turns 23 next week and can play at centre back or left wing back, has been tracked by English top flight clubs for the last 12 months having also impressed for Republic of Ireland Under-21s.

Matters have since escalated since Celtic firmed up their interest with an offer, and Rovers head coach Stephen Bradley explained the Scottish club are not the only ones to have tabled a concrete bid for Scales.

“There have been bids put down [from different clubs],” he revealed. “Right now, I haven’t heard anything from [sporting director] Stephen McPhail or the board. I know there is a lot of interest and there has been for quite some time, but right now Liam is fully focused on tomorrow.

“Going forward, until Stephen and the board tell me otherwise, that’s the way it will be. But there is a lot of serious interest from the English Premier League and Scotland.

It’s always been there (from the Premier League) for the last year. We’ve had a number of managers ring myself and Stephen regarding Liam and watched him on a weekly basis. That has been there as well as Celtic and others. There is a lot of interest.”

The last player Rovers sold to the Premier League was teenage goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, who joined Manchester City in 2019. A loan spell at Rochdale saw him break into the senior international team while midfielders Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff have recently departed for APOEL Nicosia and Hearts, respectively.

Graham Burke, another who earned Ireland recognition, has since returned to Tallaght Stadium after joining Preston North End in 2018, but Bradley explained how Scales is on a different level.

“Gavin was crazy at the time with clubs in Italy and every corner of Europe looking for Gavin. Graham had a couple. Jack’s was slightly different as it came towards the end [of his contract] but there was interest from clubs in different parts of Europe and America.

“But in terms of the level of Premier League and Scotland, this is probably the most [interest] we’ve had, yeah.”

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Scales reported for training at Rovers’ training base as normal earlier this morning and is set to feature in the first leg of their Europa Conference League third round qualifying tie with Albanian side Teuta tomorrow.

stephen-bradley Rovers boss Stephen Bradley. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Bradley is also confident he will still be available for the away leg next week. “Yeah. I expect him to be with us. I speak to Stephen [McPhail] daily and I’m well clued in on where it is and who is interested and the timeline on it. I fully expect Liam to be with us next week.

“He’s been brilliant, even last year signing a new deal when there was interest there. We’ve never had any issue and he’s really calm and takes things in his stride and thinks about things.

“He makes clear decisions and has good people around him. With Liam, it’s pretty straightforward and there’s no managing. He’s pretty level headed and has had a good grounding at UCD.”

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