David Turnbull is a special talent – and one that doesn’t come around very often.
He’s got an aura on the pitch and I’m glad to see him back because he was out for a long time; the early end to last season has hopefully given him time to get his fitness and strength back and I think Motherwell will reap the benefits.
The big question is: will they keep hold of him? When he came back last season from the knee problem that halted his move to Celtic, we never got a chance to see him playing regularly because he only got a handful of games.
I think teams have been waiting to see just how he recovers – and to me he looks like he has fully recovered.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say he is the best young player to come through in recent years; we’ve had Andy Robertson, John McGinn, Kieran Tierney and Callum McGregor, but it’s not often you get a player as technically gifted as David coming through an academy. Some others have had more unconventional routes to the top.
Against Hibs, he looked back to his best and he’ll only get better. He’s got a great footballing brain. He’s got the lot. For his goal against Livingston, he makes it look as if he’s got loads of tim,e but he manages to find that time and space – he knows how to and that’s what top players do.
Even against Ross County, he was played off the left-hand side, but he came inside and influenced the game, playing a brilliant pass for Chris Long, who hit the post. At Easter Road, I thought he was brilliant at getting on the ball and finding space, while his range of passing and vision were excellent.
But Motherwell’s model is to bring players through – whether it’s from England, Scotland or through the academy – help them improve and then sell them on. They sold James Scott to Hull City for £1.5m in January.
They are well run and have no external debt. If they can get the £3.25m that Celtic agreed to pay last season then it changes their whole outlook. There is so much that they can do with that money to improve the infrastructure of the club. They can use it to improve their facilities, which will then allow them to attract better players.
A difficult decision to make
The club initially put plans in place when the original deal was agreed with Celtic last year, so it is a tough decision for them – Turnbull will be very difficult to replace because of the way he plays the game.
Liam Polworth is already at the club and had a brilliant last season – ranking as one of the highest in terms of assists in the Premiership – and he has been kept out of the side on Turnbull’s return. So there is a ready-made replacement, but that’s not to say Polworth is as good, because David is a special talent.
There is also Allan Campbell and you know what you’re going to get from him – he’s 100% committed and another brilliant footballer. I think a lot of people see him as a wee guy who just runs about and flies into tackles, but he’s got a lot more to his game. He’s adding goals – and his game intelligence is brilliant as well.
But I just think Turnbull is so intelligent and technically gifted that it’s difficult to compare to him. It’s tough to produce players like that. The club have a difficult decision to make.
James McFadden was speaking to BBC Sport Scotland’s Thomas Duncan