Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes is delighted at the prospect of having Matty Kennedy on board at last – almost eight years after the winger first attracted his attention.
The St Johnstone winger will move to the Dons on a three-year deal in the summer after signing a pre-contract agreement and McInnes is delighted to have a player he has long admired joining the ranks.
He said: “I remember Matty scoring a brilliant goal against my Bristol City team in a pre-season game at Kilmarnock in 2012. He was 17 at the time and came off the bench to score a worldie.
“So I have watched his career since then, he got his move to Everton not long after he played against us that day.
“I have picked up on him a load of times, watching how he was getting on.
“He had a lot of loans when he was down in England and the reports we had on him were mixed at that time.
“But when he came to St Johnstone he really impressed us. We are always keen to look at players in our own league who we think can improve us, so we kept in touch with his agent over the last 18 months.
“And when we knew he was going to run out of contract, he was one we were always going to try for.”
Hearts made a late bid to try to derail Aberdeen’s attempts to sign Kennedy, offering captain Christophe Berra as part of a player-exchange while the Dons were in Dubai.
But McInnes is pleased the 25-year-old honoured his verbal agreement to move to Pittodrie by putting pen to paper upon his new club’s return to Scotland.
McInnes – whose Dons take on Dumbarton in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup tomorrow – said: “With the interest from other clubs we had to move quicker on it than we had thought.
“But having spoken to Matty, I was encouraged by how interested he was in coming here and thankfully his word was as good as ours.
“I didn’t think his head would be turned, but you never know for sure. I have been there before.
“But we stayed in touch with him and got it done.
“The added complication came from us being in Dubai but we managed to move and get it done when we landed back here.”
With two weeks to go before the January transfer window closes there is still a chance Kennedy could move to Pittodrie this season but McInnes is content to wait until the summer unless Saints want to agree a deal.
He said: “I have too much respect for St Johnstone to go pushing it. It would be up to them to come to us if they want to do something. As far as I’m concerned this is for the summer. I want to be respectful because he’s still a St Johnstone player.
“I am just looking forward to working with him in the summer.”