Celtic could lose out in their chase for John McGinn unless they cough up around £4 million – with a clutch of English clubs from both the Premiership and Championship beginning to circle the Scotland midfielder.
Hibs have rejected two bids from Celtic for the former St Mirren player, the second one £1.75 million – just £250,000 more than their initial offer. Both fall well short of the Capital club’s valuation. There has been no further contact between Hibs and Celtic since but it is understood the Easter Road club are baffled by the paucity of the offers they have received given that they sold Scott Brown, now the Hoops captain, to the Glasgow outfit for £4.5m a decade ago. And they believe the comparisons between the two at the respective stages of their careers are very similar, Brown having played 134 games for Hibs whereas McGinn has made 132 appearances since his move from Paisley three years ago. McGinn’s name was missing as Neil Lennon’s side played their first competitive game of the season, last night’s Europa League first round qualifying against NSI Runavik from the Faroe Islands.
His absence was immediately jumped upon by fans arriving at the ground as a signal McGinn was leaving but Lennon had said yesterday that the player was carrying a “dead leg” following the weekend game with Blackburn Rovers.
It is believed Hibs have been preparing for life after McGinn, bracing themselves for his departure this summer but it has been stressed that they are under no pressure to sell their prize asset.
There is a recognition, though, that McGinn has ambitions to play at a higher level but, as things stand, Hibs hold all the aces and there has been contact from clubs south of the Border inquiring as to his situation.
Reports have suggested that Celtic are willing to wait and sign McGinn on a pre-contract during the January transfer window when his contract would only have months to run but it is thought that, as the English transfer deadline in early August looms, those clubs currently mulling over a move will spring into action.
St Mirren stand to pick up 33 per cent of any fee for McGinn, the sell-on clause written into the deal as Hibs picked him up for a bargain £160,000 in the summer of 2015, and that is something Hibs would factor into any agreement.