Chelsea icon Pat Nevin says Kieran Tierney is a better left-back than Scottish compatriot Andy Robertson, and he believes the Arsenal defender can one day go on and win the Ballon d’Or.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed a barnstorming season for the Gunners and recently netted his first goal for Scotland, breaking the deadlock in Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Poland.
He has been a pillar of consistency in defence for Mikel Arteta’s side this season as the Gunners have crept up the table and consolidated a position in the Premier League’s coveted top four.
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Nevin — who played for Chelsea between 1983 and 1988 — has now revealed he once urged the Blues to sign Tierney from Celtic, believing he is a better all-round player than Liverpool left-back Robertson.
Nevin said: “I tried to get Chelsea to buy him four years ago but they didn’t listen and ended up signing Ben Chilwell from Leicester City for twice as much as Kieran would have cost them.
“If Kieran did join Real Madrid then I’m convinced he would have no problem fitting in there — he wouldn’t need time to settle or adjust.
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“He’s good enough to join any club in the world and hit the ground running.
“Andy Robertson is a fabulous full-back, so I’m not criticising him in any way when I say Tierney is the better all-round player of the two.
“It’s probably the first time since Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness in the 1980s when we’ve had two Scots capable of playing for the best teams around.”
Keen to double down on his admiration for Tierney, Nevin went on to suggest the Arsenal man could even go on to lift football’s most-revered individual award one day: the Ballon d’Or.
He continued: “He hasn’t peaked yet, which is quite frightening.
“When I first met him he was a confident boy but he’s subsequently gone beyond that to have this total and utter belief in himself and you can see it by the way he carries himself on the pitch: you just think: ‘He’s got it.’
“Kieran is already one of the best footballers on the planet. He’s more than comfortable in the Premier League, which means he could play anywhere.
“I genuinely believe he can go on to win the Ballon d’Or.
“Only one defender – Fabio Cannavaro, who captained the Italian World Cup-winning side in 2006 – has ever won that prize but it’s not impossible for Tierney to emulate him.
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“For that to happen three things need to happen. First, he has to be playing for one of the biggest clubs and winning trophies.
“Secondly, he has to avoid being around at the same time as geniuses like Maradona or Lionel Messi or goal machines like Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Finally, he has to offer something different and the way he’s combining his attacking instincts with intelligence in that centre-back role means that’s already happening.”