It was no surprise that rumours began to circulate in the summer that Manchester United were plotting a £50m bid for Aston Villa’s box-to-box midfielder John McGinn.
A pivotal figure in Villa’s promotion charge McGinn scored six goals, provided ten assists and highly impressed with his endless endeavour and crisp, neat passes.
By the season’s end he had won the club’s Player of the Year award and the fans’ vote too, both attained ahead of team-mate Jack Grealish, a player who was and is generally viewed as being vital to the Villans’ prosperity on the pitch.
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It is debatable whether United fans would have been pleased to see the whispers translate into a genuine transfer but regardless the Stretford End faithful may well be feeling regretful in the early stages of the campaign.
The 17-time capped Scotland international scored a blinding goal as Villa worried Spurs on the opening day this term and fans of the Manchester giants made their feelings known on social media. They missed out and they knew it.
Returning to the summer Villa fans were aghast at the notion of their prized star leaving for such a figure – to them he may well be considered priceless – but it was the reaction of the media that most intrigued, best illustrated by the tweet below.
Manchester United linked with shock move for £50m-rated Aston Villa playmaker John McGinn #epl: John McGinn is a surprise name on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s transfer wishlist (Picture: Getty)
Manchester United are consid… https://t.co/A17neFLhLO pic.twitter.com/zoOOdd9Z7I
— EPL Feeds (@eplfeeds) June 30, 2019
‘Shock’. ‘Surprise’. This for a link between a club that finished sixth last season in the Premier League and in dire need of an overhaul and a player who was consistently and devastatingly effective in his first year in England.
In the year that preceded his arrival he was so consistently and devastatingly effective in Scotland that his manager at the time Neil Lennon deemed him ‘one of the best Hibs players in the past 30 years’.
With the player himself admitting that ‘some people had the perception I’m just a runner’ it was becoming clear that a splintering of judgement had occurred along the way for McGinn; a common enough development for any talent who has risen via a not altogether glamorous route.
Those who were invested in McGinn – Hibs supporters, Villans, United fans researching a perspective new signing, his managers – valued him significantly. The rest, less so, bar an acknowledgement of his undeniable ability.
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All of that though is about to change, or more accurately a true reading of the midfielder’s brilliance is already underway.
His productive performance against Spurs saw Jamie Redknapp compare McGinn to Rafael van der Vaart. “A special mention has to go to Aston Villa’s John McGinn, or ‘McGinniesta’ as some call him,” the pundit later wrote in his Daily Mail column: “No disrespect to Tottenham’s record signing Tanguy Ndombele, who scored a wonderful goal, but McGinn looked like the £55m midfielder on the pitch at times.”
The Telegraph, meanwhile, recently stated he was ‘magic’ and that he ‘practically glows on the pitch’. As for data over opinion WhoScored had the Scottish international in their August Premier League Best XI.
Full of endeavour and invention, McGinn is expected to enjoy a tremendous season in the top flight.
By the end of it perhaps everyone will finally realise this is the norm; this is what he does.