GEORGE CRAN: Shankland’s signature may well be major game changer for Dundee United

Lawrence Shankland scores a penalty for Ayr.
Lawrence Shankland scores a penalty for Ayr.

As much as I saw Dundee United’s slow summer as a good thing, I did think it was getting to the point where they needed to make a real signal of intent.

If, as looks likely, they get the Lawrence Shankland deal over the line, then they have really done that.

The 23-year-old scored 24 goals in just 31 league appearances last season and, for me, could be the difference between success and failure for the Tangerines.

What it certainly shows is the Tannadice outfit are throwing everything at promotion this season.

I expected Shankland to head south to one of the options thrown up by English clubs and not give staying in the Championship a second thought.

However, United must have put a deal on the table that gave him that second thought.

If reports are true that Shankland is about to sign a three-year deal at Tannadice, then I really don’t see anyone stopping them this season in the Championship.

It had been very quiet at Tannadice over the past few weeks and I’ve written here, and rambled on in our podcast, about how that’s a positive for Arabs ahead of the new season.

With major business done in January to revamp the squad under Robbie Neilson, that minimal transfer movement is understandable. The basis of a title-winning squad is there – they just needed to add the quality to take them up another level.

The move for Lawrence Shankland can do just that.

It also shows United are a force to be reckoned with across the country once again.

Across the road, Dundee have made what they see as a ‘statement signing’ in taking midfielder Shaun Byrne from Livingston.

And, though I do see United as the favourites for the Championship this season, there will be an element of keeping up with the neighbours on Tannadice Street.

Last season, despite playing well and deserving to win games, particularly towards the end of the campaign, United left themselves vulnerable too often by not killing those same matches off.

Too many wins by a single goal made life more difficult for themselves than it needed to be.

Pavol Safranko was a fine capture. However, his tally of 12 league goals was OK but not spectacular.

It was maybe overshadowed by Shankland and Stephen Dobbie scoring about 70 goals between them but champions Ross County had a 20-goal man in Billy Mckay, too.

That’s what the Tangerines need – a striker who can bring them 20 goals a season.

Shankland can be that man.

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