Hibs manager Neil Lennon has warned Celtic target John McGinn to “get his head around” the fact that a deal may never be agreed with the Parkhead side as he backed his own club’s hardline stance.
The double treble winners have had three offers rebuffed, with the latest £2 million bid falling well shy of Hibs’ apparent £3-4m valuation of the Scotland midfielder, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
But while Lennon admits he has some sympathy for the 23-year-old as the uncertainty rumbles on, he says he is managing the situation as best he can until the matter is resolved or the transfer window closes.
“It’s a really difficult situation for him, I’ve been in it myself,” said the Hibs boss. “At the end of the day John is a human being, he has feelings and emotions and it almost feels as if he is a bit exposed so we are trying to manage him the best we can.”
It is not the first time the club’s prize asset has been in the situation, with Nottingham Forest among his suitors last summer. But then, as now, the Hibs directors stood firm and refused to sell the player for a knockdown fee. Their intransigence was rewarded as McGinn helped the club to another decent cup run and a fourth-place finish in the
Having played in Hibs’ Europa League win in the Faroes last week McGinn would not be permitted to play for Celtic in Euro qualifiers should a deal be done. The midfielder is also primed to feature in tonight’s tie at home to Asteras Tripolis, with his manager insisting he will continue to utilise his talents until any deal is done.
“The club have been really strong and I totally back that,” said Lennon. “We have our valuation, he is our top player and no club yet has met the valuation that satisfies the club. John is quite satisfied with that at the minute. I’ve had chats with him to see how he is because there will be lots of people talking to him, the agent, family, all giving him titbits of advice.
“I think the club have made their position pretty clear to Celtic, what the club value the player at and that valuation has not been met. Listen, the deal might never happen, he has to get his head around that as well so we try to prepare him for all eventualities the best we can. He is training well so he’ll play and until that situation changes he is a Hibs player.”
Team-mate Darren McGregor has backed McGinn to keep performing until any deal is struck.
“I’ve said he has to just concentrate on the football because everything else will fall into place,” McGregor said. “If he does go to Celtic then he will progress the same way he has progressed here. But, at present he is still a Hibs player.”