Aberdeen rejecting £3 million bids for Scott McKenna from Nottingham Forest and Queens’ Park Rangers is about standing up for Scottish football as well as protecting their own interests, according to Pittodrie skipper Joe Lewis.
The keeper believes teams north of the border must stop selling their prized assets for knock-down sums.
This is especially true as English clubs increasing fork out astronomical fees for foreignimports and those already in the Premier League of EPL.
Lewis hopes his club continue to rebuff suitors for star defender McKenna or, failing that, make sure they are properly compensated for a player with all the necessary attributes to prosper at the top level.
Celtic’s refusal to lower their £25m trigger fee for Kieran Tierney in the face of a protracted pursuit of the full-back from Arsenal also meets with Lewis’ full approval.
The 31-year-old points to the sky-rocketing value of John McGinn only a year since Aston Villa paid £3m to sign him from Hibernian as a perfect example why Scotland should no longer be a domain ripe for bargain hunting by English sides.
Lewis said: “Just because, in previous seasons, clubs sold players for less, that doesn’t make it right. Clubs need to be firm and set out a precedent that young Scottish talent won’t be sold cheap.
“You look at someone like John McGinn. Aston Villa got a bargain with him. In the space of a season people are talking about £50m for him.
Suffolk-born Lewis added: “For us, we are delighted to have Scott as long as we have him. Every player has a price but it is right the club put a sensible and realistic price on him. It is overdue that clubs are looking to get the best price they can.
“It is a joy to play behind Scott and from a selfish point of view I hope he is with us for a long time. The speculation doesn’t impact Scott and that is all credit to him. Nothing gets to him and he is a great lad. I am sure there will come a time when the valuation is met from the club’s point of view and he may well move on.”
A year ago, Dons boss Derek McInnes hinted that only a bid in the region of £10m would result in Aberdeen having a decision to make over McKenna. Although Forest are expected to come back in with a bid much improved from their £3m opening gambit, even a highly unlikely doubling of that first figure would undervalue McKenna as far as Lewis is concerned.
“I am surprised there haven’t been more clubs linked with Scott as he is such a good player,” the keeper said. “We have been fortunate to have him this long to be honest. If he played abroad and joined an English team then you would be looking at a huge figure to get him. The club has a value of him, and it is a strong one, but that is only right as he is a fantastic player. Any club would be lucky to have him.
“I couldn’t put a value on him but I can tell you he has every attribute that a top team would want in a young centre-half. He is 22, fast, comfortable on the ball, dominant in the air, tough in the tackle, he reads the game well and there is no weakness in his game for me. He will only get better in my opinion. The biggest compliment I can pay him is his attitude is superb. He never gets ahead of himself and he is always willing to learn and listen to people. He is very coachable. If he does leave the club, this season, or in the future, then whoever takes him is getting a hell of a player.”
Lewis will be looking for McKenna to be at his unyielding best when Aberdeen host Georgian side Chikhura Sachkhere on Thursday night with a Europa League third qualifying round tie against Rijeka of Croatia. A 1-1 draw in Tiblisi has given McInnes’ men a sound platform to progress to face a side they beat in the qualifying rounds four years ago. Lewis doesn’t want to project forward to the possibility of reaching the play-off stage, but he recognises what could flow from bring European group stage football to Pittodrie for the first time in 11 years.
“It would be massive and a huge thing for the club to get that far in Europe especially how difficult it is to get there [with four qualifying rounds]. It would be a shot in the arm for everyone connected with the club,” he said. “It would bring confidence to the squad and the more games you can win brings confidence and team spirit and that can only be good going into any tournament you are involved in. I don’t think Europe would hinder us in the domestic scene, it would only help us. It would help boost the club’s funds to bring in more and better players. As players you have to take one game at a time. Playing in Europe and competing in Scottish football is an attraction to players coming to Aberdeen as well.”