Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes insists Ronald Hernandez can leave the club with his head held high as his time in Scotland looks set to come to an end next month.
The Dons paid Stabaek £800,000 for the Venezuelan international right back in in January but Hernandez has struggled to adapt to Scottish football, making just three starts for his club this calendar year.
A challenging time in Scotland, coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, has not helped Hernandez in his attempt to settle at Aberdeen but McInnes told shareholders at the club’s annual meeting last night he expects the investment to be recouped.
The Dons boss said: “We’re disappointed it hasn’t always worked out. There were other interested parties at the time, and there still are. And we’re confident that any investment by the club on this deal will be recouped.
“In January, there may be an opportunity to do that. I think we have to be fair to the boy, and if there is an opportunity, and we think there will be, to recoup the money invested then that money will come back.
“From a personal point of view, it needs to be clear, he’s a brilliant boy. He’s put everything into this. He’s almost went a full calendar year without seeing his family, his wife and his young baby daughter. That’s tough on any young individual.
“For a young boy to travel to Norway to play, to Scotland, it has been a challenge for him. It shows a real sense of maturity but there have been huge sacrifices made from Ronny. He’s a brilliant boy and I am disappointed that he hasn’t been able to force his way into the team.”
McInnes says Hernandez has endured a difficult year in Scotland for several reasons and had not but praise for how the defender had applied himself during his time at the club.
The Dons manager also insisted the strategy of looking beyond Britain for players will continue despite the failed Hernandez experiment.
He said: “When we signed Ronny, he was one of the players who was flagged up to us. We were looking for a right-back for this season starting and he was one of the ones that was flagged up on our system.
“It then became clear that he had three years left on his contract and we quickly moved on because we couldn’t do the fee. Our first port of call was free transfers.
“It was then put to me that a deal could be done by the clubs and therefore we were happy to proceed and get Ronny on board.
“There’s not a club out there or a manager out there who gets every part of their recruitment right, but we were confident enough to do this deal.
“We were hoping that he would be a success and it hasn’t put us off looking to do similar sort of deals for players outwith the UK.”