Former Hibs winger Michael Weir fears the Easter Road club will become embroiled in a summer-long bidding war for midfielder John McGinn.
The worst fears of fans were realised when Ipswich Town made a reported £1 million bid for the Scotland player only days after Hibs sold top scorer Jason Cummings to another English Championship club, Nottingham Forest, for a seven-figure sum.
Ipswich’s approach was rejected but Weir believes it could prove to be the opening salvo as others seek to test the Capital outfit’s resolve with Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers known to be an admirer of the 22-year-old.
Weir conceded he wasn’t surprised to hear of Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy’s move, saying: “When you have a goalscorer like Cummngs – and strikers are always hard to come by – and McGinn getting international recognition with Scotland at his age, other clubs are always going to sit up and take notice. That’s the way of the world.”
McGinn is still under contract for another two years but Weir insisted his old club could make it even tougher for others to try to entice him away by persuading him to sign a new deal and so strengthen their negotiating hand even further.
However, Weir believes that rather than discourage interest in McGinn, Hibs’ rebuffal of Ipswich could well lead to others joining the pursuit of the former St Mirren player.
He said: “It didn’t come as a real shock to me. I’ve always liked McGinn. From the first time I saw him, I thought he had a good future in the game, As always in football, you don’t know what’s round the corner. I wouldn’t imagine Ipswich are the only club who’ve been keeping an eye on him. There will be others who might make a move now Ipswich have tested the water. You might well find three or four coming in.”
If that were to materialise, it would increase the chances of Hibs receiving an offer they’d find difficult to turn down, although Weir insists head coach Neil Lennon would have a big say in what happens to a player who will undoubtedly be a huge part of his Ladbrokes Premiership plans next season. Agreeing Hibs fans don’t want to be worrying about the future of McGinn at a time when they are looking for further arrivals to join new signings Danny Swanson and Simon Murray, Weir said: “Obviously, replacing two players who have been at the heart of the team in the past couple of seasons would be difficult and Lennon would be disappointed if Hibs couldn’t keep McGinn. He’d be a huge loss in the middle of the park.
“Supporters wouldn’t want to lose him but they also want to see new players coming in regardless of what happens to McGinn. But I think Hibs have the right manager in place. I am sure he will have a few targets, players he’ll be hoping to bring to Hibs.
“He won’t be signing players for the sake of it. They’ll have to fit in to what he is trying to do. But players can keep their options open, even right up to the start of the season so it becomes a bit of a waiting game. I’m sure Lennon will know who he wants, but it isn’t as easy as people think.”