Former Aberdeen defender Kevin McNaughton reckons the Dons are right not to sell Scott McKenna on the cheap and advised the Scotland international to look towards England when he is ready to move.
Celtic had a reported £3.5million bid for McKenna turned down on Tuesday and interest is only going to grow in the 21-year-old if he continues to impress in the red of Aberdeen.
McNaughton made 200 appearances for the Dons before leaving for Cardiff City in 2006, with his contract running down and an offer to stay was slow in coming. Finding the right club is not a given but McNaughton became a fan favourite during his time with the Bluebirds, helping them to the Premier League.
Swansea and Hull City have expressed an interest in McKenna already this year and champions Celtic are the latest team to add their name to a growing list of suitors. However, McNaughton believes the Dons hold the aces and are well within their rights to wait for a sizeable offer.
He said: “Everyone has their price but it’s got the potential to be a lot more than what’s been offered. He’s playing with Scotland so his valuation is only going to rise if he keeps on the path he’s going. Something sizeable might come out of the blue but at the moment the ball is in Aberdeen’s court as he’s tied up there for a good few years. Hopefully they can hang on to him.
“I had played over 200 games by the time I left and I felt the time was right. If a bid gets accepted, Scott will have a decision to make. If I was him and any options did come up, it would probably be down south as if it doesn’t work out, the option to come back up to Scotland is there. If it doesn’t work out at a Celtic or Rangers, you’re hampered.
“If he’s playing regularly for Aberdeen and getting international recognition, then in another season a bigger club will probably come along and offer more money. If they can hold on to him at least until the end of the season, that will stand them in good stead.
“If he continues to be involved with Scotland that will help massively – I found training with tougher players brought my game on.”
Losing another key player will be the last thing manager Derek McInnes wants to go, given that in the last few seasons he has lost Ryan Jack, Jonny Hayes and Kenny McLean, while work is underway to keep captain Graeme Shinnie beyond this season.
McNaughton said: “In my time at Cardiff it was regularly the case because of finances that we lost our best player at the end of the season. We lost Michael Chopra to Sunderland then Roger Johnson to Birmingham the next season. We always fell short in the play-offs and looking back, it probably made the difference in making the step up.
“Aberdeen definitely don’t want to be losing one of their best players as the gap is not massive. If they do, it’s going to be tough for them.”