Former Don Adam Rooney believes the strong link between the club and its players could prove decisive in Aberdeen’s attempts to bring Jonny Hayes back to Pittodrie.
Rooney was Hayes’ team-mate at Caley Thistle and the Dons and he is not surprised to see Hayes willingness to consider a return to the club after his contract with Celtic expired.
Rooney, who moved to Solihull Moors from Salford City but has yet to kick a ball for his new club after the coronavirus curtailed his campaign, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Jonny was to return to Aberdeen.
“I know he is still a fans’ favourite at Pittodrie, the years I was there anyway.
“Most of the boys from our Aberdeen team have a connection with the fans and the city and that is the reason why Niall McGinn has gone back and why Jonny is keen to go back because he has an affection and affinity to the club.
“Players know that these guys will give their all for Aberdeen.”
Rooney is surprised Hayes is a free agent following three years at Celtic Park but believes Dons supporters would be thrilled to have their former player back at Pittodrie.
He said: “I reckon the majority of the Aberdeen support would welcome him back with open arms. I know a few were disappointed when he went to Celtic but Jonny had given Aberdeen good service and they also got a decent transfer fee in return for a player they had signed for nothing from Inverness.
“For me, Jonny would walk into the majority of the teams in the Scottish Premiership.
“I am actually surprised that Celtic have let him go. He has done a great job for him and I think a lot of people were surprised they have let him go, I certainly was.
“I think he could have done a job at Celtic for another year or two. He could go into most other teams in Scotland and be one of their top players.”
Hayes will celebrate his 33rd birthday next month but Rooney has no doubts Hayes can continue to contribute at the top level for several more years.
He said: “If Aberdeen were to re-sign Jonny then it would be a great bit of business, especially on a free transfer.
“He is now 32 but he is as fit as anyone. I talk to him a lot and he tells me his times for his runs and I normally double it and then try to do it in that time.
“Jonny has always looked after himself and is a very good pro and for me he still has a good few years left in him at the top level.
“I watched a lot of his games on the television and the matches I saw him play he actually did very, very well.
“I am surprised he didn’t cement his place in the Celtic team for next season. Jonny is versatile and can play left-back, midfield or the wing and that is another asset in itself and will be a big attraction to a lot of teams.”