For the best part of the last 12 months, Hibs midfielder John McGinn has been on the radar of numerous clubs. Here’s what we know so far:
Who is interested?
Aston Villa and Celtic are leading the pack at the moment, with the 23-year-old reported to be in Birmingham today meeting Villa boss Steve Bruce and touring training ground Bodymoor Heath and stadium Villa Park. However, as of this afternoon, Hibs and Villa had not agreed a fee despite the player being granted permission to travel south.
The Hoops have submitted three bids for the former St Mirren man, with each of them being rejected by the Easter Road side. Brendan Rodgers’ side are understood to have offered £1.5 million, £1.7 million and £2 million for the player.
Nottingham Forest tried, and failed, with a £750,000 bid for McGinn in August last year.
Other clubs linked with the midfielder include Blackburn Rovers, Bournemouth, Brighton, Derby, Ipswich, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and West Ham.
Is he likely to go?
Probably. McGinn is an ambitious individual. While he has stated that he loves playing in front of sell-out crowds at Easter Road, and that he is still learning his trade, he has been candid about his aim to test himself at a higher level.
Now firmly in the thoughts of Scotland national team boss Alex McLeish, McGinn will realise more than ever the importance of bettering himself and pushing on.
How are the fans reacting?
Since he joined from St Mirren, McGinn has become a firm favourite with the supporters, who have watched him help Hibs to Scottish Cup glory for the first time in 114 years, and promotion back to the Scottish Premiership. He’s also played a key role in the club’s resurgence in derbies and has been instrumental in wins over Celtic, Rangers and in both legs of the Europa League second qualifying round clash with Asteras Tripolis.
While numerous Hibs supporters would no doubt like to see the player remain at the club, the majority - going by comments on fans’ forums and social media - accept that the time has come for the highly-rated midfielder to test himself at a higher level.
McGinn’s comments about his “love” for Hibs struck a chord with the Easter Road faithful, most of whom wouldn’t begrudge him a big move if it came along and the price was right.
However, most fans would likely prefer McGinn to head south, rather than along the M8.
What John McGinn has said
“It was really hard initially but when you’re on the park, you forget.
“You’re walking along the street and everyone is asking you. It’s no bother for the first few times but then it starts getting annoying. You just want to focus on your football and keep getting better and let things happen.
“It’s tough. I’ve never hidden from the fact that there will be a time that I move on but it will have to be the right time and the right moment but obviously not come yet.
“Football is a great place to get away from things, and going over to Greece was amazing and I’ve loved it – it is basically getting away from all the talk.
“You try to ignore it, sometimes it’s impossible, but it’s been good to get a couple of results over the last couple of weeks and I’ve loved it. Even the boys at training just make light of it and, after one or two jokes, they just carry on as if nothing has happened.
“I’m grateful for what this club has done for me and I love playing for Hibs – I never take that for granted.
“It’s nice to know you’re doing something right but at the same time I need to be respectful to Hibs.
“I’m their player and I’m under contract here and as long as I’m a Hibs players I will give 100 per cent.”
What Neil Lennon has said
“There has been no bid in from any other club apart from Celtic.
“I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t more bids that come in for him between now and 9 August and beyond that.
“Again, that will dictate whether we’ve got anything to spend in that regard if that eventuality happens.
“From a personal point of view, I’m selfish and I don’t want it to happen because you can see how good he is at the minute. He is just an outstanding player.
“Of course it is unsettling for the player. This is football, and you can’t stop progress, but all the speculation is not an easy thing for him to deal with. We just need to manage him as best we can until it’s resolved one way or the other. The best thing for him is to play.”
What Brendan Rodgers has said
“He is a player that we clearly wanted to bring here. I was really interested in bringing him in from a few months back.
“We haven’t been able to complete a deal and when of course when you don’t complete a deal on a player it always opens the door for other teams – a club like Aston Villa, who have clearly interest in him, who have a big history of their own, a great club with excellent facilities and now financial backing.
“So we have to wait and see on that one.”