On the surface it appears positive news, but scratch a little deeper and Lawrence Shankland’s contract extension talks could potentially leave Dundee United in a tough position.
Shankland this week revealing he and the club are discussing new terms rightly invoked some hope among Arabs they may be able to hang on to their talisman, who has a year left to run on his current deal, a while longer.
Should they be able to add a year or two to his agreement it should be lauded as the deal of the century.
After all, given the right service, Shanks has the potential to be one of the best forwards in the Premiership.
He struggled last season in a defence-first Micky Mellon set-up, finding the back of the net just nine times – a return that will have disappointed the 25-year-old with the high standards he sets himself.
However, with new boss Tam Courts suggesting he will look for his side to be more attacking, sticking around at Tannadice could prove to be the fresh lease of life the
out-of-favour Scotland hitman is needing.
That’s the best case scenario.
Now for what, in my opinion, is more likely to happen.
In his interview with the BBC, Shankland also suggested he would be keeping his options open should he have a good first six months of the season.
Sealing a move after that, in January, would leave United in a sticky spot.
He would walk away for free on a pre-contract agreement, leaving in the summer of 2022 when his deals runs out or even in the winter window should all parties so desire.
🗣️ 'I’m fully concentrated and committed to my job…'
Lawrence Shankland says talks about his future at Dundee United have taken place, but stresses that "you need to look at all your options" ⤵️
— BBC Sport Scotland (@BBCSportScot) July 7, 2021
With the cat now officially out of the bag that the Terrors are speaking to their star man about a new arrangement, they find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Holding out for Shanks to sign a new deal that may not happen makes no business sense.
The longer they wait, the less time they give themselves to make any money out of their prized asset.
Of course, they’ll have the benefit of another six months to a year out of the striker but do they really want that hanging over them?
The other option is sell now, move on and bring in a replacement.
Time, however, is not on their side.
The season is already under way with last night’s Premier Sports Cup clash at Kelty Hearts and new gaffer Courts needs certainty.
He’s already under the microscope after his surprise promotion to the first-team manager’s office.
Despite his clear desire to keep a hold of Shankland, the last thing he needs is to be caught cold, either losing his star man late in the window, half way through the season or for nothing come the end of the campaign.
It is clear the player’s position is Shanks but, maybe, no Shanks. He is right to
consider his options but United need decisiveness.
As if Dundee’s pre-season couldn’t get any better, it appears their Premier Sports Cup group is now there for the taking.
Although not in the best of circumstances for Ross County, with the Staggies’ Covid outbreak meaning they had to forfeit their opener with Forfar today, Group C has been blown wide open for the Dee.
With coronavirus in their camp, the Highlanders may have to concede more matches, including their clash with Premiership rivals, the Dark Blues, next Sunday.
First of all, James McPake’s men must take care of business when Brora Rangers call in at Dens Park on Tuesday, of course.
However, after the warm-up to the new campaign they’ve had, it’s hard not to be
optimistic and feel like everything is falling into place for Dundee at the moment.
It very much feels like a continuation of the feel-good factor fostered in the squad from last season’s promotion from the Championship.
If that can continue rolling on through the initial round of the cup and into the Premiership, which kicks off at the end of the month, Dundee have every chance of hitting the ground running in their return to the top table.
Of course, the tests will be far sterner than those provided by the likes of Forfar and Leyton Orient.
Winning is a good habit, though, and one Dundee look in a good position to keep up.
We know a thing or two about glorious failure in Scotland and, perversely, the thing that’s dogged us for so many years is now our only hope.
With England reaching the final of Euro 2020, Sam Matterface is dusting off his microphone to, potentially, pollute our ears with his nausea-inducing commentary.
That is, should they manage to down Italy tomorrow night.
The English have done incredibly well to reach their first major final in 55 years and deserve to enjoy their moment but it’s gone too far.
Like in the Classical antiquity, we Scots will take a Roman conquest.