It seems pretty clear that Celtic were interested in signing Jonny Hayes. I’ve gone over that a couple of times on here already, mostly saying that I believed him to be a squad signing, nothing more. The deal looked done, especially when word broke yesterday that our young winger Ryan Christie was not adverse to the idea of returning to Pittodrie on a year long loan.
But the move has stalled. There’s been no movement on it at all, and in the meantime word swirls around out there that other clubs have expressed an interest and Birmingham and Cardiff were even contemplating lining up bids. Why?
Aberdeen clearly wanted an auction. The reasons for it are obvious; I always believed £1.2 million was a joke for their best player, and if they could have got more they were fully entitled to go for it.
Trying to bait Celtic into such a thing was foolhardy at best though; if we were offering anywhere in the region of £1 million plus a top footballer for a season then that bid was more than fair if not especially generous. It was hard to see someone offering more.
Now Cardiff have declared that they are out, and Aberdeen’s gambit has ended in failure. What now for the auction? It appears to be off, leaving one club left standing and that’s us.
Aberdeen might well want to hang onto the player and may not be particularly concerned if we threaten to leave the bidding as well, but the indecent haste with which they opened talks in the first place seems to mitigate against that. So what should we do now?
If it were up to me I’d offer them £1.2 million and take Christie off the table completely. Because that deal was only good if the money was right and £1.2 is quite sufficient for a squad player. He’s worth more, but the question now is whether Aberdeen will get more.
This is where Peter Lawwell and the board are pretty ruthless, and whilst some people may be having conniptions over the sight of Sevco filling their squad with unknown foreigners whilst we idle along I am not one of them. They need to rebuild and the gigantic gamble they are taking in giving this guy every available penny could result in the most spectacular detonation we’ve seen since 2012.
We have no such dire need.
We can afford to take our time.
Lawwell will know the field is now clear and it’s that man’s job to get us the very best deal that is available for us. I would not be terribly surprised at this point if we decided to play some hardball of our own. The other day, some outlets reported that Aberdeen had told us to up our offer … I think the chance of that happening at this point are probably zero.
The club has just passed the 50,000 mark in season ticket sales; we are operating at peak power right now. There’s no need for us to get involved in an unseemly transfer scramble over Jonny Hayes. Celtic may well make one more offer and then say “okay then, we’re out.”
There are other options.
In some ways, it’s a little like the Virgil Van Dijk issue; now with Liverpool walking out of the bidding there’s an expectation that he’ll stay at Southampton.
I don’t believe he will, but in that sense an auction would have been good for us. We’ll probably get less in terms of his sell-on value when he does move on, but them are the breaks. The same thing could happen to us over Moussa Dembele when he finally moves on. It’s the chance you take.