Jamie Maclaren fears he could be priced out of return to Hibs
Jamie Maclaren has revealed he will be pleading with German club Darmstadt 98 not to price him out of a return to Easter Road.
The Australian striker is determined to quit the Bundesliga 2 outfit this summer despite still having two years of his contract to run.
Maclaren would have been a free agent thanks to a clause in his deal had Darmstadt, who dropped out of the Bundesliga last summer, suffered another relegation, a scenario which looked highly likely with just two games of their season remaining.
However, they won both of those matches, enjoying a 3-0 victory away to Regensburg and then, as Maclaren celebrated the end of his stay in Edinburgh with a hat-trick against Rangers, ensuring safety thanks to a 1-0 win against Aue.
Now former Brisbane Roar hitman Maclaren fears Darmstadt will see an opportunity to make some money by selling him.
Maclaren made his unhappiness at life in Germany – although he admitted it was rewarding financially – by joining Hibs during the January transfer window despite new coach Dirk Schuster’s attempts to persuade him to stay.
Having scored eight goals in 13 matches as Hibs just failed to clinch what would have been a remarkable second-placed finish in the Ladbrokes Premiership, he is of no mind to rejoin Darmstadt.
He said: “Personally, I don’t want to go back to Germany. I don’t want to stay there, to be honest, but I have a contract until 2020.
“The club own me so I will have to see what happens. If they ask me, I will tell them to listen to offers because I don’t want to go back.
“They have come straight out of the Bundesliga with a squad of 25 to 27 pros that make a good living. They will see me doing well at Hibs and thinking if they can maybe make some money, but that’s out of my control.
“I will have a holiday, refresh my mind, and then speak to my agent to see what’s happening. Until now my full focus has been on Hibs and I knew I would deal with it later.
“With Darmstadt staying up, it will be up to them what happens. There was a clause if they were relegated, but it’s out of my hands. What might happen is they see me as an asset who has gone away and proved them wrong.
“They were playing me in a position that wasn’t mine, but I have always scored goals throughout my career. They might want to make some money on me, or whatever, so these discussions will have to take place.”
Maclaren arrived in the Capital with the undisguised hope of forcing his way into Australia’s World Cup squad but, having made coach Bert van Marwijk’s initial 32-man pool, reports Down Under claim he has failed to make the final 26 who will travel to a training camp in Turkey to prepare for World Cup games against France, Denmark and Peru.
Van Marwijk will officially unveil his squad today and the news Maclaren was to be left out has left many in Australia unhappy, given they see the 24-year-old as their country’s in-form striker, and hoping the Dutch coach will have a last-minute change of heart.
Maclaren admitted that if Van Marwijk was to do so, it could tempt Darmstadt to place a “ridiculous price tag” on his head, reflecting: “That’s the harsh life of football sometimes.”
While the player would clearly be devastated if he was to miss out in Russia, he admitted he’ll look back on his time at Easter Road fondly should Sunday’s thrilling 5-5 draw prove to be his last in a green-and-white shirt.
He said: “I have enjoyed every moment at Hibs. I owe the gaffer a lot for putting his faith in me and the team-mates I’ve had behind me have made me look good. If this is goodbye, then I would like to thank everyone at Hibs because it has been great.
“My thought process was that if I did well for Hibs then the international football would take care of itself. If you make sure your club football is good, then you give yourself a chance. Hopefully scoring three goals against Rangers will help my cause.”
If Maclaren leaves Edinburgh with happy memories, he admitted he’ll never forget the final day of the season, Neil Lennon’s players racing into an unlikely 3-0 lead only to find themselves trailing 5-3 before Maclaren added to his first-half goal with two more, the second coming three minutes into added-on time.
He said: “That was the craziest game I have been involved in although I played in a semi-final in Australia where we were 3-0 up and got beat. It was a great feeling to score an equaliser in the 93rd minute, it was my sixth professional hat-trick.
“We should have won the game, but we are looking back on a season that became a history-making points tally for the club.
“The boys should be proud of that because throughout the full season they have been fantastic. We shouldn’t be too disappointed about not making second. The game last week against Hearts was probably an off-night, but if you look at the whole season, the boys have been fantastic.
“On Sunday when we went 3-0 up we probably thought we could get the six we needed, but when you put so much effort in to get a fourth goal you leave yourself open at the other end. That’s what happened but we are not a team to lie down and I think scoring so late on showed that.
“We went home happy and are proud of the season we had.”
The defeat at Tynecastle resulted in an astonishing outburst from Lennon in which he not only questioned his own future – he’s staying – but branded his players as being unprofessional and amateurish.
Maclaren, however, dismissed Lennon’s rant as nothing more than another indication of the Hibs head coach’s winning mentality.
He said: “The manager said a few things that were well documented, but we’re men, we’re not little boys. You just take it on the chin and you move on.
“You go again, try to make the wrongs into rights and I think we did that against Rangers. The manager just told us to go out there and play, he said he didn’t care if we concede as long as we score goals. We scored five and we should be proud of that, for this to be the first season back in the Premiership it has been a good one.
“The manager is a winner, he’s one of the best managers I have worked under. That’s because of his mentality, he just wants to win all the time. He has standards, there have been times we have been winning 2-0 and he’s still hammered us because it hasn’t been good enough for him.
“I think he’s a great manager to be under. The guys against him don’t like him, but that’s why I think he’s good to play for.
“It’s great he’s committed to Hibs because he’s done a great job and should be proud of what the team has done. He will go away, refresh himself over the summer and come back to do it again because he’s a winner.”