By Rory West
“Don’t sell McGinn, Niall McGinn” is the cry from Aberdeen support as rumours continue to circulate over the attacker’s future. With McGinn’s contract expiring at the end of the season, Aberdeen’s most vital piece of business that they have to take care from now until the end of the season.
The Northern Ireland international has been one of Aberdeen’s key players since he arrived from Celtic in 2012 on a free transfer, becoming the first Aberdeen player to score over 20 goals in a season, in over 10 years, in his first season with the club. He has gone on to score 65 goals for the Dons so far. McGinn immediately sparked a connection with fellow winger Jonny Hayes and that combination found its final piece to the jigsaw when Adam Rooney arrived in January 2014.
Ever since, the three have formed a partnership that fears every defence in the country and when one of the three don’t play, Aberdeen struggle. This was exemplified in the early stages of the season where Hayes was injured and McGinn was recovering from the European Championships. Wes Burns and Miles Storey often deputised for McGinn and Hayes and the same partnership with Adam Rooney wasn’t there.
Up until recently, McGinn’s game time for Aberdeen has been somewhat lower than previous seasons; this is partly down to the player not getting any break over summer through international duties. Aberdeen’s form stuttered through this period and there was pressure put on Derek McInnes.
Since then McInnes returned to basics and brought all his trusted players back, McGinn, Hayes and Rooney. The Dons have played four games since and won all four, where McGinn has either scored or assisted.
Having a fully refreshed and fit Niall McGinn back for Aberdeen is key to their charge second place and potential Scottish Cup glory. His trickery and pace is almost un-replaceable, with his drop of the shoulder, get away, becoming synonymous with his style of play, somehow continuously beating defenders with it despite using the trick on them over and over again. Another component to McGinn’s game that Aberdeen would miss is his ability from set plays, scoring plenty of free kicks in his time at Pittodrie.
There has always been a question raised whether McGinn would be able to perform at a higher level, with rumoured moves to the English Championship forever returning when his future is in question.
Whether or not McGinn leaves Aberdeen in summer, managing to retain his services for at least another season will increase Aberdeen’s chances for immediate success, especially if they also manage to keep a hold of fellow transfer target Jonny Hayes, who is contracted until summer 2018.