Summary

  • Leipzig's Burke the eighth Scotsman to move to the Bundesliga.
  • Bypassed the Scotland Under-21s en route to senior international debut.
  • Drawn comparisons with Real Madrid CF winger Bale.

With his hulk-like physique, explosive pace and ever-improving eye for goal, Oliver Burke did not become the most expensive Scottish player in history for any old reason when he joined ambitious Bundesliga greenhorns RB Leipzig during the summer 2016 transfer window.

bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the most gifted Scottish player of his generation...

1) Sheriff of Nottingham

Born in the Scottish town of Kirkcaldy on 7 April 1997, Burke joined Nottingham Forest's youth academy at the age of eight. He made his first-team debut for Forest as a late substitute in a 3-1 Capital One Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur FC on 24 September 2014, but was later loaned out to Bradford City FC.

Returning to his boyhood club, Burke's breakthrough eventually came under the stewardship of Dougie Freedman, with his first goal arriving in the 1-1 draw with Cardiff City FC in December 2015.

Burke registered six goals and three assists in 31 appearances for former club Nottingham Forest.

2) Bags of potential

Building on a strong foundation of two goals in 18 Championship appearances over the course of 2015/16, Burke started the 2016/17 campaign with a bang. Four goals and one assist in just five league outings helped take Forest to seventh in the standings, prompting Leipzig to make their move.

"He's exactly the sort of player we were looking for," said Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick after tying 19-year-old Burke down to a five-year deal on 28 August 2016. "We're delighted that we have managed to lure such a talented player away from England. He's tall, incredibly quick. He's got lots of promise for the future."

*Shirt numbers for our two newcomers. Bernardo takes No.3, Oliver Burke the No.19.

3) Shades of Gareth Bale

The likes of FC Bayern München, FC Barcelona and Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool FC are all purported to have shown some level of interest at some point or other in a player Burke's former Forest teammate Thomas Lam has even compared to Wales flier Gareth Bale.

"He is a great talent and potentially a great player," the Finland defender opined. "He is a similar player to Gareth Bale. I do not want to say he is definitely going to be as good as him, but you can see the similarities there - he does scare the life out of opponents."

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4) Scotland's leading light

Testament to his ability and with just six appearances for the Scotland Under-19s to his name, Burke bypassed the U21s on his way into the senior international fold. He made his debut in a 1-0 friendly win over Denmark in March 2016 and put in another eye-catching shift in the 1-0 defeat to Italy two months later.

"When I called up Oliver, everyone scratched their heads, asking 'who's that?'," said Scotland head coach Gordon Strachan. "He's proved he's a little bit different to the rest. Off the pitch he's a quiet lad, he's always got his headphones on and he doesn't have a wacky haircut. He prefers to let his football do the talking - that's the sign of a good player.

"I'm not saying he's going to be as good as [Gareth Bale], but the similarities are there. He's definitely got the potential to be as good as him."

5) Lip-smackingly good

Those lofty comparisons and projections are no surprise to Scotland assistant coach Mark McGhee. "The first time I saw him on the training pitch, I was licking my lips," the former Hamburger SV striker recalled of the 1.88 m-tall winger. "There was something really special about him - his movement, his size, his ball control!"

6) Touch of class

Supplementing that list of sought-after attributes are Burke's set-piece expertise and venomous shooting abilities, with his final goal in a Forest shirt a thing of real beauty. After casually sidestepping three defenders, the youngster buried an effort past former England goalkeeper Rob Green from the tightest of angles to cap a comfortable 3-1 victory over Leeds United FC.

7) Top dollar

Capable of the mesmeric and with bags of untapped potential, it is little wonder the fee paid by Leipzig to bring Burke to the Bundesliga is the highest ever for a Scottish player - and justifiably so.

"From what I have seen, his ability – the sky is the limit for him and it is all about his mentality, staying grounded and working hard and hopefully he can fulfil his potential," said Scotland international Matt Richie. "It would be great for Scotland."

8) Fantasy fodder

In Official Fantasy Bundesliga terms, you will be pleased to learn that you do not have to break the bank to bring young Burke on board. A virtual snip at 4m, he could turn out to be the signing of the season in more ways than one.

Watch: How to play the Official Fantasy Bundesliga:

9) Scots forerunners

Sharing a birthday with Bayern wide man Franck Ribery and FC Schalke 04 striker Franco Di Santo, Burke is the eighth Scot to join the Bundesliga's vibrant ranks after and Brian O'Neil (VfL Wolfsburg, 1998–00), Scott Booth (Borussia Dortmund, 1997–98), Paul Lambert (Dortmund, 1996–98), Murdo MacLeod (Dortmund, 1987–91), Mark McGhee (Hamburg 1984-1985), Alan McInally (Bayern, 1989–93) and Vince Mennie (1. FC Köln, 1982-86).

Vince Mennie (l.) was the first Scotsman to play in the Bundesliga.

10) Professional to the core

So what is the secret behind Burke's success? "It's an old cliche, but it's spot-on that you have to treat your body as a temple," he told English tabloid The Sun. "You have to eat the right things and do the right things to recuperate. Since I was young, people have always told me what I'm capable of, but it's down to me to make it happen."

Compiled by Christopher Mayer-Lodge