Manager Derek McInnes believes Scotland cap Scott McKenna is worth more than the club record fee of £3 million paid by Nottingham Forest.
However, he is confident the defender will land the Dons a huge cash windfall in the future courtesy of a 20% sell-on clause by moving on to an English Premier League club.
McKenna penned a four-year contract with Championship club Nottingham Forest on the eve of the Dons’ Europa League clash away to Sporting tonight.
The £3m will be paid up front, but that could rise to £5m with achievable add-ons.
Aberdeen had previously rejected a £7m bid from Aston Villa on transfer deadline day in the summer 2018 window.
They also kicked into touch a £5m bid from Celtic.
McInnes said: “It is a significant figure in this current climate. Is he worth more? He is worth more.
“And Scott will go and show that. His next move will be for way more than this.
“But it’s good money nonetheless – and much-needed money.”
The fee received for McKenna, who was contracted to the Dons until 2023, will help fill the financial black hole created by the pandemic.
Aberdeen projected £10m losses as a result of the outbreak, but that has been slashed to £3.8m by a combination of wage cuts, deferrals, season ticket sales and fresh investment.
McInnes said: “It (the transfer fee) does help. And it’s a good story, really. It doesn’t feel like a great story for me at the minute, I’ve got to say – because I’d rather have him in the team.
“But I do think Nottingham Forest are getting a brilliant young player. He’ll be great there.
“It’s a great move for Scott in terms of wanting to get down south and show himself.
“He’s been a consistent performer at international level and, looking at how he’s started this season for me, he’s knuckled down and stayed injury-free.
“He’s quietly gone about his business and demonstrated what a good centre-back he is. His stats are right up there.
“It’s a good story for the club, a youngster who has come through the academy from 12 years of age.
“All the staff and coaches who have had the fortune to train him and coach him, to nurture him, it’s a good story.
“That’s how you want the club to be run, with academy players coming in, giving you good service, good value and wishing them well.”
McKenna slapped in a transfer request last summer just days before the Europa League trip to HNK Rijeka after bids from Nottingham Forest and QPR were rejected by the Dons.
McInnes is confident McKenna will eventually secure a big move to the English top flight. If that move materialises while McKenna is still at Nottingham Forest, the Dons will cash in.
He said: “If Scott goes and does for Nottingham Forest what he did for us then hopefully someone will want to take him.
“Hopefully that can be with Nottingham Forest, certainly for the add-on side of it.
“I am pretty sure he will get there and play in the Premier League. Scott sees his team-mates with Scotland playing there and I know how much he wants a taste of that.
“He has made the step to the Championship and the next step is to get into the Premier League.
“If you have racked up 90-130 games for a first team, particularly at a club like ourselves, at that age, you give yourself the best chance to be the player you can be and have the career you are capable of having.
“I am sure he will go down there, establish himself and let people see how good a player he is.”