Aberdeen close in on deal for ‘£100m’ Zeli Ismail

Jonny Hayes: Wants job done. Picture: SNSJonny Hayes: Wants job done. Picture: SNS
Jonny Hayes: Wants job done. Picture: SNS
ABERDEEN are on the verge of securing Wolves winger Zeli Ismail – who was once tipped to become football’s first £100 million player – on a season’s loan.

The 20-year-old Albanian-born wideman spent last season at Burton Albion and made a big impact and the Molineux club are keen for Ismail to go out on loan again.

Pittodrie boss Derek McInnes has made little secret of the fact he wants a wide midfielder to add to his squad and he’s made a move to land Ismail.

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However, he said: “I’ll only discuss players if and when they have signed.”

Ismail first grabbed the headlines six years ago when both Chelsea and Manchester City offered Wolves £2.5m for the then 14-year-old product of their Academy, which was turned down by the Midlands club.

And Chris Evans – who was Wolves’ Academy director at the time – tipped Ismail for the very top.

He said: “It was clear very early on that Zeli was a special player with talent way beyond his years.

“If he continues his progress up to the age of 21 he will become priceless. People are talking about there being a £100 million player one day. “I wouldn’t want to put any pressure on the lad, but in years to come I can see enormous money being spent on him.”

Burton tried to sign him again for this season, but Aberdeen appear to have won the race.

Meanwhile, Dons full-back Jonny Hayes has insisted his team-mates will be fully professional tonight in Latvia despite ­Daugava Riga players vowing to go down fighting. Derek McInnes’ side will certainly qualify for the next round of the Europa League after a 5-0 demolition of the Baltic side, who were brutal at Pittodrie.

As well as producing a woeful display, Daugava also had two players sent off and six others booked. So incensed were they at the one-sided clash last week, that they were heard to issue threats to several Dons players vowing retribution in Riga. Their rough tactics led to Peter Pawlett limping off and he will miss tonight’s return leg. Hayes has insisted he and his team-mates will ignore that and carry out a thoroughly professional second-leg performance.

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Asked about those Latvian verbals, Hayes stated: “I think that was more heat of the ­moment stuff. They were losing goals and their discipline went and I am sure they want to get revenge in the football sense.

“There were a few late tackles and they had two players sent off. I thought the one on Peter Pawlett was a straight red card anyway as it was off the ball.

“There were a couple of ­tackles on myself as well, but I am used to that and I thought we protected ourselves quite well. We kept our discipline and showed our maturity as well so we didn’t get drawn into any silly tackles. There were no silly reactions, we got the job done and we did it in a very ­professional manner.

“I have learned over the years to try and ride tackles and avoid collisions where possible. It is just unfortunate that Peter ­suffered the injury, there were some on Willo Flood and Declan McManus when he came on too.

“But we have forgotten about that now and we will act as if this is the first leg of the tie. We want to win, we want to put in a good performance and build up our fitness as well.”

McInnes has vowed to resist the temptation of resting his star men tonight and insists his side will do everything to chalk up another impressive win. Aberdeen are expected to start with their strongest side, minus Pawlett and McInnes said: “It is about being ­professional, getting in and out and hopefully doing a job. There is work still to be done to get through the tie and we will need to give good individual performances. All it takes is for one or two of our boys to think it is job done which could make it an uncomfortable night. We are just trying to be disciplined because we know how games can turn. We are still needing game time so it is not about resting too many players.”