Hibs boss Neil Lennon has told Scotland midfielder John McGinn he shouldn’t be leaving Easter Road for any club where he isn’t guaranteed first-team football.
McGinn has only one more season left on his contract with the Edinburgh club, with Lennon conceding a parting of the ways is inevitable given the growing reputation the 23-year-old is earning thanks to his performances for club and country. The Easter Road outfit rebuffed a bid from Nottingham Forest last summer, while Lennon – who puts him in the £5 million bracket – has admitted he was surprised there were no further bids in the most recent transfer window.
McGinn, however, has been touted by many as the successor to Scott Brown both for Celtic and Scotland, with former Hoops player Simon Donnelly expressing his surprise his old club haven’t made a move for the former St Mirren man, although he insisted he wouldn’t bet against Parkhead being his final destination.
Donnelly suggested Brown could prove to be the perfect mentor for McGinn as his own career draws to a close, adamant the Hibs player would be a natural fit alongside Stuart Armstrong and Callum McGregor in the middle of the park for Celtic in future seasons.
However, Lennon believes McGinn is already well capable of holding his own at any club in the country. “If Simon is suggesting that John should sign for Celtic but not play, then I would disagree with that.
“I wouldn’t see the point in John doing that. John is at an age now that he is ready to play anywhere. We will get all sorts of theories and opinions, but John is good enough to be a first-team regular wherever he plays.
“Why would he go and be an understudy to anyone when he could play for any team in this country for sure – any team.”
Lennon watched as McGinn earned his seventh Scotland cap as Alex McLeish enjoyed victory for the first time in his second spell in charge of the national team against Hungary, expressing the hope the midfielder can go on to become a mainstay in a dark blue jersey.
He said: “I think he’s good enough, I thought he was excellent against Holland in November and it was a very mature performance on Tuesday night. He’s playing with good players and I think that gets the juices going and brings the best out of him. I think he is in very good condition physically as well and he’s having an excellent season.”
The wider the audience to which McGinn is exposed – with further Scotland friendlies to come against Mexico and Peru in the summer followed by Belgium in September before the Nations League gets under way – could, however, hasten the day he brings his Hibs career to an end, as Lennon acknowledged.
“It’s inevitable with the progress John is making that there will be interest in him,” he admitted. “He has a price. I value him very highly as we all do here, and we won’t sell ourselves short if the bids come in for him.
“We already had a bid for him last year which was nowhere near our valuation and I am surprised that there was no interest in him in January.
“We’ll see what the summer brings. If I was a manager somewhere else I would be having a right good look at him.”