Why Hibs should not lose too much sleep over Funso Ojo saga
Paul Heckingbottom confirmed in the aftermath of the 1-1 Betfred Cup draw at Stirling Albion that the club had dropped their interest in signing midfielder Funso Ojo from Scunthorpe.
All the chat prior to Saturday's clash at Forthbank was on who had won the race for the 27-year-old Belgian’s signature – Aberdeen or Hibs.
As it transpires, Ojo is set to be unveiled at Pittodrie within the next 24 hours.
With Hibs having held discussions with the player and his representatives earlier this week, a pitch that head coach Heckingbottom admitted he and the recruitment department were extremely happy with, the former Leeds and Barnsley boss said the club had reached a decision that the “deal was no longer for them”.
When probed further by the assembled media, he stressed that any future arrivals at Easter Road must be committing themselves for the “right reasons”.
Derek McInnes’ Aberdeen appear to be in a position to offer a more lucrative financial package, not to mention the lure of European football this season. If that ticks the boxes for Ojo, then so be it. The player is perfectly within his right to do what is he feels is best for him and his family.
Losing out on a player to one of your rivals is always a bit bruising for a football club. However, it’s not as if the club had put all their eggs in one basket in trying to lure Ojo to the Capital. The recruitment department has been pretty astute in recent seasons when it comes to bringing fresh faces to the club. Ojo is not the only No.6 that Hibs have been talking to.
A quick glance at social media would suggest there is a general feeling of disappointment that Ojo has elected to join Aberdeen over the Easter Road side. Conversely, though, can Hibs get better value for money, considering they would have to spend the guts of £125,000 to get the player.
Now may be the perfect opportunity for the club to crank up their pursuit of Genoa's Stephane Omeonga, a player tried and tested at this level on loan, back to Leith. Had Ojo signed on the dotted line, the chances of bringing back a player who flourished under Heckingbottom during the second half of last season and loves the club may have been completely over.
Furthermore, let’s not bypass the fact that Ojo was part of a team that suffered relegation to English football’s fourth tier last season. He may have one of European football’s more recognised clubs in PSV to boast on his CV, but his career has been on a downwards trajectory ever since leaving Eindhoven in 2012. Yes, those statisticians out there will rightly point out he went on to make more than 100 appearances in the Dutch top flight – the majority of those while at Willem II – but so did Edwin de Graaf, and look how his short tenure in Leith turned out.
Bluntly, if Ojo doesn't want to be at Hibs, then they've dodged a bullet.
Ojo may go on to be a star for Aberdeen for many years to come, but Hibs may not lose too much sleep over this one. To continue Heckingbottom's relationship analogies, there are plenty more fish in the sea.