Aberdeen have opened up contract talks with key players about extending their time at Pittodrie under boss Stephen Glass.
Director of football Steven Gunn confirmed the club have already initiated negotiations with players about lengthening current deals.
Internationals Ryan Hedges (Wales), Andy Considine (Scotland), Jonny Hayes (Republic of Ireland) and Dylan McGeouch (Scotland) all have contracts set to expire next summer.
They would be free to talk to any interested clubs from the first day of the winter transfer window on January 1 if not tied down on new contracts.
Gunn said: “We are talking to a few players already in the building about extending their contracts.
“That is players that are currently not out of contract.
“We want to look at what we want to do now for future years.
“We want to make sure that the players we want are here for a long time.”
Aberdeen’s player of the season Hedges’ recently said he anticipated Aberdeen opening contract talks over his future soon.
The Dons already have a number of first team stalwarts secured on long-term contracts, with keeper and captain Joe Lewis on a deal until summer 2024.
Scotland Under-21 internationals Lewis Ferguson and Ross McCrorie also have three years left on their Aberdeen contracts.
Aberdeen recently rejected two bids by Premier League-bound Watford for Ferguson with the second offer of £1.7m slated by the Dons as “insulting”.
Ferguson subsequently submitted a written transfer request, which was rejected by Aberdeen.
Sunderland are also understood to be considering a £1m bid for McCrorie, who only signed for the Dons permanently from Rangers in the January transfer window.
McCrorie initially joined on a season-long loan from the Ibrox club and was set to sign on permanently this summer on a three-year-deal for £350,000.
However, Aberdeen fast-tracked the permanent deal when Rangers moved to sign Scott Wright in the January window.
The £200,000 fee secured for Wright, who had already agreed a pre-contract with Rangers, saw Aberdeen pay the remaining £150,000 owed to the Ibrox club to land McCrorie.
Gunn clear on optimal time to sell
Gunn insists the Reds have a clear pathway on when is the optimal time to sell their young developing talent.
It is designed to get the balance right of a return on the pitch from the players before bringing in the maximum benefit financially when they eventually move on.
Aberdeen also plan to ensure they do not sell too many in the same window.
Gunn explained: “We actually do an exercise called predicting the future squad.
“That informs us in terms of how many minutes we think a player will play and what value we think financially they will bring to the team.
“We have a pathway in terms of when we think the optimal time to sell our young developing talent will be.
“We want to make sure we don’t sell them all in the same window.
“However, we need to still be competitive on the pitch as well.
“We are being a little bit greedy as we want to achieve so many different things.
“We want to be competitive on the pitch and we want to build a value in the squad, which we can then reinvest back if we sell players.
“But we also want home-grown talent.
“To try to achieve all those things will be a challenge, but we are confident we can step up to that challenge.”
Balance between new signings and youth
Gunn recently earned a promotion to the role of director of football and has more than 20 years experience at Pittodrie.
Following an extensive review of the club’s structure, Gunn will now oversee all football functions including first team, academy, women’s team, recruitment, medical and sport science, performance, support operations, legal and compliance.
🔴 Our current Director of Football Operations, Steven Gunn, has been appointed Director of Football.
With over twenty years’ experience at Pittodrie, Steven will now oversee the football business unit at the Club.
More details ⬇️
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) May 20, 2021
The Dons are also seeking a new head of recruitment following the departure of Russ Richardson.
Aberdeen have already secured four new signings for next season, with Euro 2020-bound Scotland international Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Scott Brown (Celtic), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Livingston) and Gary Woods (Oldham) all agreeing pre-contacts to join on two-year contracts this summer.
More signings will come as manager Glass rebuilds the side he inherited that has finished fourth in the Premiership for three successive seasons.
However, Gunn insists retaining the balance between new signings and developing youth will be maintained.
He said: “Balance in the squad is going to be particularly important to us.
“We have added two leaders in Gallagher and Brown, who you would imagine will play a lot of games for us.
“They will be a big influence on the dressing room.
“Not every player that comes in will have that profile.
“We also want to make sure we don’t block too many pathways for young players.
“We have development plans for a number of guys already in the system.
“We are looking ahead two to three years to when some of them might emerge.
“We are seeing some of them emerge now such as Calvin Ramsay and Jack MacKenzie.
“There are also a group that we are really excited about just below that.”