Neil Lennon last night dismissed as “laughable” a bid from Nottingham Forest for Hibernian’s star midfielder John McGinn, writes Aidan Smith.
The offer from the English Championship club is understood to be £750,000 and the Easter Road manager, admitting that it had unsettled his player, stressed that Forest or any other potential suitors would have to work “very, very hard” to prise the Scotland international from Leith while he remained boss. Former Rangers boss Mark Warburton is trying to reunite McGinn with his ex-team-mate Jason Cummings and news of the bid broke before Hibs’ game at Dundee.
Lennon said after the 1-1 draw that the speculation had affected McGinn’s performance and hit out at both the derisory amount and the manner in which it had been made – and repeated an assertion he made previously when he valued McGinn at £5 million.
“It is laughable and we’ve kicked it into touch,” Lennon said of the Forest bid, which follows one from Ipswich Town. “They’ll need to come back with far more money than they’re offering at the minute. If they do then, fine, that’s a decision the club has to make. If other clubs come in for John, we’ve got a valuation of the player. If it’s met, that will be the club’s decision. They will do the best for Hibernian and, if it’s an offer they can’t refuse, every player has his price.
“But this bid is well short, three or four times short. I’ll tell you what I could do: I could put a bid in for Scott Brown at Celtic and get it out there in the media. Not that it would unsettle Scotty but maybe I could do that for a laugh.
“For a player of John’s quality, you’re talking in the millions. Mark Warburton knows the Scottish market. John is a Scottish international and he’s under contract with us. Sometimes clubs do this kind of thing to unsettle a player, which doesn’t please me and I would imagine they’ll come again. I’ve said before I’d value John at
£5 million but maybe the club couldn’t get that.”
The speculation had been fanned by Kris Boyd, working as a pundit on Sky Sports, saying that the Dens Park match would be McGinn’s last for Hibs.
“What has it got to do with Kris?” asked Lennon. “How does Kris know? He may know people at Nottingham Forest but he doesn’t know me or hasn’t spoken to me personally. Where he gets his information I don’t know. They [Forest] are going to have to work very hard to get John McGinn out as long as I am the manager for anything less than a figure in the millions. When the window shuts, and if nothing happens, he remains our player. We’re in negotiation to renew his contract, if we can.”