Former Aberdeen captain Paul Hartley is unsurprised Graeme Shinnie is tempted by a new challenge in England.
Dons skipper Shinnie, who is suspended for this Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic, held talks with Derby County yesterday.
The former Caley Thistle player, who was pictured being shown around Pride Park, is out of contract at the end of the season and the Dons are understood to have offered the 27-year-old a five-year deal plus a testimonial.
Sunderland, Wigan and Luton Town are among a host of clubs who have been monitoring the Scotland international’s availability but Shinnie appears to be edging towards a move to Frank Lampard’s Rams, who are sitting eighth in the English Championship.
Hartley, who played for Millwall and Bristol City during his career, knows it is a huge decision for Shinnie.
He said: “Derek McInnes will still be hoping he will stay. Graeme would be going to a tough league and will have to prove himself again.
“He’s been a good servant for Aberdeen and he’s got a big decision to make – it will be the one that’s right for him and his family
“I had one or two options when I went to Bristol City but I felt the challenge of the Championship, with different teams, different styles of play and different stadiums, appealed to me.
“It’s a league where if you get out of it, the reward is getting to the Premier League. There’s good crowds and it’s a bigger league.
“But you only have to look at the clubs who have been relegated (to the Championship) and are struggling to get out, to know there’s some big teams there. Graeme will make the right decision for him and his family – he’s at an age now, 27, where he should be hitting his peak.”
Meanwhile, Aberdeen attacking midfielder Niall McGinn is optimistic Sunday’s semi-final will finally be the time the Dons get the better of Celtic.
McInnes’ side have won only one of their previous 15 matches against the Hoops – a 1-0 win at Parkhead on the final day of last season when the Celts had already been crowned league champions.
The Dons have faced Celtic in three Hampden finals since 2016, including this season’s 1-0 League Cup final defeat, but failed to overcome the Glasgow side at the National Stadium.
But former Celt McGinn hopes the Hampden Hoops hoodoo comes to an end this weekend.
He said: “There is no looking away from it, we are definitely due a victory against them and hopefully that will be in the semi-final.
“The confidence is good and we have been very good away from home this year.
“We have been hard to break down and hopefully that will be the case in the semi-final.”