Graeme Shinnie has vowed to end the season on a positive note with Aberdeen after signing a pre-contract agreement with Derby County.
Dons captain Shinnie has penned a three-year deal with English Championship side Derby after impressing Rams boss Frank Lampard.
Efforts from Aberdeen to keep him at Pittodrie had fallen short and Shinnie, currently sidelined with an ankle injury, has chosen to bring to an end his four-year stay with the Scottish Premiership club.
On signing his deal with Derby, Shinnie said it had been a very difficult decision.
“It was a tough decision. A really tough decision,” he said.
“The club did everything they possibly could to keep me which was such a good feeling and I appreciate everything the club have done for me over the past four years.
“The club and the manager have been different class with me, and I can only thank them.
“I love the place. That made the decision that bit harder. I have a great relationship with the manager, one of the strongest I have had.
“I have a great relationship with all the staff. There are so many people around the club that I get on well with.
“They have all really helped me. And I have a great relationship with the fans who have been so supportive towards me, ever since I arrived.
“The four years I have had at Pittodrie, I have some great memories but I just felt the age I am at and having a chance to go down to England and play at club who are trying to push to get into the Premier League, this is an opportunity I could not turn down.
“I feel now is the right time for me to go to England and try it down there.”
Shinnie signed for the Dons from Caley Thistle in 2015, on the back of winning the Scottish Cup.
He was named club captain after Ryan Jack departed for Rangers in 2017 and has made 186 appearances, scoring 12 goals and playing for the club in three domestic cup finals.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes said he “completely respected” Shinnie’s decision.
He said: “Graeme has been outstanding for Aberdeen Football Club over the last four years and will be a very hard act to follow.
“I’m sure everyone connected with the club will join me in thanking his for his contribution in his time here and wishing him all the very best for the future.
“Obviously, we are still hopeful that we can see him make a final appearance in a red jersey at Easter Road next weekend in order that he can say goodbye to the fans properly.”
Derby manager Frank Lampard said: “Graeme will be an excellent addition to our squad for next season and beyond.
“He has been an extremely consistent performer for Aberdeen. He’s someone we’ve watched very closely and we think he will fit into our squad with his ability, attitude and characteristics.
“He has the rest of the season to conclude with Aberdeen but we look forward to welcoming Graeme to Derby County when he reports for pre-season training ahead of next season.”