When a season ticket holder of 15 years misses out on their boyhood dream of playing for Celtic, one would assume that they’d go onto bigger and better things.
In this case, however, the player was making the switch from Hibernian to Aston Villa in the Championship.
The struggling Premier League side may be steeped in history themselves but Celtic have a lure far greater for a budding Scottish footballer. The very fact they’re on the verge of nine successive titles says a lot.
However, for John McGinn, his ambitions were never realised as he failed to seal a switch that for so long looked like it would happen. His love for Celtic is undeniable, he’s admitted that he’ll always adore the club; “it will never leave you,” the Scot revealed in August 2019. Fortunately, the midfielder has enjoyed an immensely profitable spell across the border.
It’s almost remarkable to think that in June of last year he was touted with a £50m switch to Manchester United. That was a year on from when Celtic failed to agree a fee with Hibs for his services.
The central midfielder disclosed details of the failed move in December 2018: “The process started dragging on, obviously Celtic made a few offers and it was hard for me, really was difficult. I was a Celtic season ticket holder for 15 years so had my heart set on it.
“But two months along the line it was becoming quite clear that a deal wasn’t getting agreed.”
Why Peter Lawwell and co were unwilling to stump up the required cash is bizarre. After all, the Villans paid a measly £2m for his signature.
Since then McGinn has gone onto become a force in English football, not only impressing in the second tier but also performing with mightily impressive consistency in the top-flight. No wonder Steve Bruce was so elated at bringing him to Villa Park – “how we got him out of Celtic, I don’t know because his grandfather was the chairman,” he remarked.
It’s unlikely the 25-year-old would’ve attracted £50m interest with little exposure in the SPFL but they certainly could have earned a significant profit – something they’ve done with multiple players in the past.
Think Moussa Dembele who departed for £19.7m and Victor Wanyama who eventually landed the club an £11.6m profit after leaving for Southampton. Kristoffer Ajer may also exit for €30m (£27.4m) too following his arrival on a free transfer.
As well as landing one of the brightest talents in the Scottish game, this would have been a brilliant opportunity for Lawwell to bolster the club’s financial situation. They should be ruing their refusal to meet Hibernian’s demands.