Derek McInnes insists he couldn’t delay Adam Rooney’s move to English National League club Salford City any longer, even though it’s left Aberdeen scrambling for a striker to face Burnley next week.
The Pittodrie team’s manager had hoped to delay the Irishman’s departure at least until after the Europa League meeting with the English Premier League side. However, the fear was that it might cost Rooney the chance of a lucrative move to the ambitious side which is part owned by Manchester United legends Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary and Phil Neville.
Now the marksman, who netted 88 goals in 197 games at Aberdeen and scored the decisive penalty in their shootout victory against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the 2014 League Cup final, is expected to double his wages in non-league football down south.
That leaves McInnes hoping he can use the six figure transfer fee in time for someone to make an immediate impact in Thursday’s first leg European tie at Pittodrie.
The Aberdeen manager said: “After a conversation with Adam, it was clear he was keen on the move and we have made it happen for him. The timing was agreed over the last few weeks and it had to suit us a bit better to try to bring a striker in. But unfortunately in the last few days he might have missed out on the Salford deal so we’ve allowed this to happen.
“We wish him well and I’ve no doubts he will be a success but we gave Adam every opportunity to stay and fight for his place.
“We didn’t want to give him up easily because he has been a brilliant signing for me. He has been a part of the culture in the dressing room and showed how to be a professional footballer.
“It’s important to fill your dressing room with good people like that.”
Rooney became the first Aberdeen striker since Joe Harper to score 20 goals in three successive seasons following his free transfer from Oldham Athletic. However, the arrival of Stevie May at the start of last season limited Rooney to just 23 starts but he still finished joint top scorer alongside Kenny McLean.
McLean’s form earned the midfielder a £500,000 move to Norwich City but what most disappoints McInnes is seeing former players like Anthony O’Connor, Ash Taylor and now Rooney in the lower leagues down south. He added: “I’m not dismissing Salford and I have no doubts they will get where they want to be. But we’ve missed out on three or four players to League One already. We lost O’Connor who I wanted to keep. I don’t think we should be losing players to League One clubs, but it is what it is. We have a budget that I’ll try to use and stretch it to put a squad together that make us competitive. That’s the challenge.”
McInnes may now make an increased offer for Doncaster Rovers striker John Marquis after having an opening bid of £250,000 rejected but a defender is also a priority despite bringing back Dominic Ball on a season long loan earlier this week.
Rooney said the ambition shown by Salford is the reason why he has decided to swap Aberdeen for England’s fifth tier.
“It wasn’t easy, but I just felt my time was coming to an end here and the opportunity came up at Salford,” Rooney told the Aberdeen website. “The plans and ambition Salford have really intrigues me and where they want to take it. But the other side of that is actually having to leave here. I certainly wasn’t booted out the door. Unfortunately, in football you feel your time comes to an end at certain periods in your career and you have to move on and we felt it was the right time for everyone.”