Hibs fans may have spent the January transfer window sweating over the future of John McGinn, the midfield ace heavily touted for a big money move. But today the 23-year-old revealed they needn’t have worried because he had no intention of going anywhere.
McGinn admitted all the speculation which swirled around him – Celtic, West Ham United and Ipswich Town all credited with an interest – had got to him despite his protestations he was happy at Easter Road.
Now, he insists, he can concentrate purely on his goal of helping Neil Lennon’s side clinch a place in next season’s Europa League, the Premiership newcomers currently sitting fourth in the league table.
“January was a strange month for me,” the Scotland player confessed. “I was asked three or four times about my future and each time I said I was happy here and that I would reassess things in the summer, but that didn’t seem to stop the speculation.
“It just kept coming and coming. It’s something you say shouldn’t affect you, but subconsciously it can. It affects your game. So once the window closed it was good to get that weight off my shoulders because I knew deep down I was staying here. Obviously there were rumours going around, but I’m under contract and if anyone was interested they would have had to contact the club and that didn’t happen.”
However, with only 18 months remaining on his contract, McGinn knows full well that it won’t be long before his future is again under discussion and freely admits he does have ambitions “down the line”.
But in the meantime he feels he is now back on top of his game, saying: “Hopefully the speculation will stop for a while and that will allow me to concentrate on my football.
“Over the course of the season I think I have played some of my best football in a Hibs shirt. I had a slight dip but I feel now I am getting back to my best and hopefully I can show that over the rest of the season.
“I have always felt I have unfinished business here. We have had some success over the past couple of seasons, but getting Hibs back into European football is something that excites me. I don’t shy away from that.
“This is a great place for a young Scottish player to play football and you can’t take that for granted. And if we managed to get European football this season it would be another feather in the cap and another successful season for Hibs.
“I feel the club appreciate what I do so I would never be in a rush to leave, I’d never go anywhere that wouldn’t take my career to the next level. We just don’t have a great bunch of boys here, we have a talented bunch of boys.
“You could go somewhere else and stagnate and stop your development. But I have such good people around me here who are helping me get better as a player. Don’t get me wrong, I have ambitions down the line and I think everyone understands that. It would have to be the right thing at the right time for all parties.”
At the moment McGinn’s ambitions stretch no further than beating Aberdeen today, the bitter memory of being on the wrong end of a 4-1 drubbing the last time the sides met still very much preying on his mind.
He said: “That was one of the lowest points of the season, along with the derby. We’ve had a few disappointments in my time here, but it was the manner that we lost that upset us.
“No-one in the dressing-room thought it was acceptable and the manager made that clear. He was entitled to do so, none of us has a leg to stand on.
“But he knows, and we know, we have a talented dressing-room and we work as hard as we can. Aberdeen are the only team we haven’t taken any points from this season so we’re determined to show we can do that. At the same time we respect them and we know they have threats who can hurts us. For us it’s so important to beat the teams around us to try and hang on to them.
“Our main aim was to get into the top six and we’re so close to that. Once we get there we have no doubt we can go out and compete up there. But if we slip up against the teams around us it will be so difficult.”
If that defeat at Pittodrie acts as motivation, so too does the victory over Rangers last time out, McGinn scoring the opener to go with the double he claimed at Celtic Park earlier in the season.
He said: “Scoring at the big stadiums in Glasgow is something I have dreamed about doing since I was a wee boy and now I have managed to do that. I think we’ve proved we’re a top side who can do well with the best in the country.”