Hibs right to hold out for best John McGinn deal, says Celtic skipper Scott Brown

Scott Brown, right, is a huge fan of John McGinn
Scott Brown, right, is a huge fan of John McGinn
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Celtic captain Scott Brown believes Hibs are justified in holding out for a bigger fee for John McGinn but has welcomed the likely prospect of his close friend joining him at the Scottish champions.

Brown revealed he has been in regular contact with McGinn in recent weeks as Celtic have pursued their interest in signing the 23-year-old midfielder.

Hibs have so far rejected two bids for their prized asset, who has one year remaining on his contract at Easter Road but is understood to be keen on the move to Celtic where his grandfather Jack served as chairman.

Brown can empathise with McGinn’s current situation, having been at the centre of extended speculation over his own future before he moved to Celtic from Hibs for £4.4 million in 2007.

According to Brown, McGinn is a better player than he was at a similar stage of his career and he believes his close friend will flourish even more under the management of Brendan Rodgers at Celtic.

“John is fantastic, everyone knows how good a player he is,” said Brown. “Whatever happens with him will happen. I was in John’s situation a good few years ago, so I know how he is feeling. He is still a Hibs player just now and has to continue doing what he is doing.

“He just has to take a step back and let the clubs deal with it. He just has to carry on with what he’s doing because that’s why clubs want to sign him. He is a top-quality player.

“Every club wants to make as much money as they can from a top-quality player. Even though he’s only got a year left on his deal, Hibs want to get as much cash as they possibly can and quite rightly so.

“Is it inevitable he will come to Celtic? That’s not up to me. It’s up to our club and Hibs. If he does come, it will be a great move for him.

“The manager here makes everyone a better player. He’s been around top-quality players for most of his management career so you are always going to learn from him.

“No matter what, the changes of formation, the changes of style we play, it will probably suit John more than anything.

“Yeah, I’ve been in touch with him recently. I’ve just sent him a few wee jokes. You can imagine what. I let you be the judge of that!”

McGinn made his Scotland debut alongside Brown in a friendly against Denmark back in 2016 and is regarded by many as a long-term successor for the 33-year-old Celtic skipper who has now retired from international football.

“I think a lot of people were surprised he got in the Scotland squad when he did, ahead of more experienced players at Aberdeen and elsewhere. But, by far, he shone.

“In his first game at Hampden against Denmark, he played alongside me. He was outstanding and got man of the match. He is willing to learn, which is part of the battle, so he is going to improve.

“So he’s already replaced me with Scotland. When I was John’s age, I was a totally different player to him. I just ran about smashing people. John’s got a lot more than I had at that age. I’ve matured into playing central midfield and sitting in front of the back four more.

“John’s still got that energy to go from box to box. When he has that, he might as well use it to his full ability.”

Brown admits he would he happier playing alongside McGinn in the coming season rather than facing up to him again.

“We get on really well off the park,” added Brown. “It’s always harder to play against your mates, more than anything.

“It’s always going to be a battle playing against him. I’m very surprised at how he plays. He gets the ball and drives forward.

“He’s done it with Scotland as well. He has taken Hibs by the scruff of the neck and strolled through most of the games in the Premiership last season.

“He wants to fight, he wants to battle. He’s one of the strongest ones there is. Everyone says you would want him beside you rather than against you. He’s got a great left foot, he’s strong, he wants to win the ball back. He also has a goal in him, so he has pretty much everything you need.”