This week, the future of one of Scottish footballs best players will probably be decided one way or another, and for many years to come. John McGinn will leave Hibs during this window, and he will do so because he is in the last year of his contract and it makes good commercial sense for the club to let him go.
Someone will meet their asking price.
That club should be Celtic.
It looks increasingly likely that it will be.
But this will involve Hibs and Celtic coming to an agreement, and that agreement has to come from a place where both have a realistic approach. Celtic wants the best deal possible, but Hibs do too and this doesn’t have to become a pissing contest although Petrie might want it to.
The asking price is said to be £3 million. Once Hibs could have commanded £4 million and perhaps even £5 million. If McGinn had three years left on his deal instead of one those numbers might be easier for them to realise. They never will at this point.
McGinn is worth £3 million. The question is, will Celtic pay the full fee up front or will they pay cash plus a player? That seems the most likely. If we throw in Scott Allan a deal at between £2 million and £2.5 million should do nicely, and for the Easter Road club that has to represent good business. They can try for the extra £500,000 elsewhere but it would be risky.
Scott Allan would enable Hibs to replace the midfielder with cash left over to spend. Without it Hibs are chasing two replacements instead of one and that doesn’t appear to me to make a whole lot of sense. If they try to twist Celtic’s arm to get the £3 million plus Allan the chances are we’ll walk away, and we’d be quite right to.
After all, McGinn could bide his time if Celtic is the move he wants. He could sit it out until January and then Celtic would be able to force the issue, make a desultory bid or even wait until the summer to take him on a free. Scott Allan would not be part of either equation.
No matter how much Petrie may want to screw us, just for the sake of it, or over grudges that have arisen in the past few months, the only person (other than McGinn) who he will hurt by playing hardball is Neil Lennon who knows that even if the club got a £5 million fee he would get a pittance to spend. Better for him to get a little money plus a player; that’s how he’ll see it.
But equally, Celtic can’t do this on the cheap and not even because we can. We have to show Hibs the proper respect, even if their chairman has become untrustworthy. They are a fellow SPL club and they are losing their best player here; it’s our responsibility to act honourably in this case and pay them what John, in the last year of his deal, is worth.
£1.5 million was not an insult to them, as has been claimed. This is a negotiation and that was the opening offer, reflecting the strength of our position. We will increase it, of course we will, and it is likely that the increase will get this over the line.
But there’s no point in both clubs digging in and entrenching their positions. Celtic and Hibs can both win here, as much as that is possible for the Easter Road side. The longer this drags on the more likely someone else would get in here and buy him.
The closer to signing deadlines we go the more Hibs might think they are holding cards.
And Brendan Rodgers wants this done, and done quickly, for that very reason; we’re approaching Champions League games and he wants the squad strengthened for them and that consideration should over-ride all Celtic’s fooling around.
It’s time we did right by Hibs, the player, the manager and ourselves. Petrie is not a factor in this now that Hibs have named a price. We know what’s fair and what’s not, so get it done, Celtic. Get this one completed so we can pursue other targets without the distraction.
McGinn has been on the radar for long enough that we know what his worth is.
It is fair, but it is also negotiable.
Throw in Scott Allan as a sweetener with the second bid, and close it.