Aberdeen have had a £500,000 bid for Hibs’ winger Martin Boyle rejected – but what would the Australian international bring to Pittodrie if the Dons can engineer his transfer?
Dons boss Stephen Glass is a huge admirer of Aberdonian Boyle, but the Reds face a battle to land the 28-year-old.
Boyle is contracted to the Easter Road club until summer 2023 and Hibs’ boss Jack Ross views him as pivotal to their bid for success and is keen to secure the play-maker on a longer term deal.
Although Boyle has a £500,000 clause inserted in his contract allowing him to speak to clubs who match the asking price that does not apply to Scottish clubs.
Aberdeen will have to substantially increase their initial offer for Boyle if they are to lure one of the Premiership’s most exciting players to the Granite City.
What will enthuse the Red Army about the approach for Boyle is that he is an exciting player who entertains.
Boyle’s rampages down the right flank cause panic to defenders and get supporters standing up in anticipation.
Will he cross or shoot? – the defenders and fans don’t know.
The only certainty is, whatever option he takes, it will inevitably cause havoc for the opponents.
The Reds had the opportunity to sign Boyle when he was at Montrose.
Former Aberdeen boss Craig Brown ran the rule over Boyle, who came in on trial and featured in training sessions, but a deal was not offered.
Boyle subsequently moved to Dundee.
Blistering pace, skill and an eye for goal
Fast forward nine years and Boyle’s stock is high on both the domestic and international stage having starred for Australia in World Cup qualifiers in June.
The Hibs winger was recently named on a six-man short list for the Men’s Footballer of the Year in Australia.
What would Aberdeen get if they could secure the capture of Boyle before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month?
Blistering pace, the will and tools to beat defenders, close control, the ability to cross and an eye for goal.
A winger, but equally potent as a striker
Crucially Aberdeen would also secure another attacking option to Christian Ramirez and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
Not only would Boyle be able to deliver the ammunition for Ramirez and JET if utilised wide, he would also offer the potential for Glass to mix up his front-line as he can also operate as a striker.
Boyle shone in that striker role in spells last season alongside Christian Doidge.
At 30 years old, Ramirez and JET both have the control and eye for goal, but not the blistering pace of Boyle.
Boyle is the ideal player to fit into the attacking ethos Glass wants to instill at the club of exciting, rapid, attacking play with a high press.
Impressive stats from last season
Last season Boyle rattled in 15 goals in all competitions, with 12 of those coming in the Scottish Premiership.
A close inspection of his Premiership stats from the 2020-21 campaign underlines why Aberdeen boss Glass is so keen to secure the winger.
Expected goals (xG) measures the quality of an effort at goal based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal.
Such is Boyle’s pace, creativity and positional awareness his expected goals in the Premiership last season was rated at 13.3 and he delivered 12.
So Boyle actually slightly underperformed in terms of his goal return.
On the basis of those stats there is even more to come from Boyle – and Glass wants Aberdeen to be the club to benefit from that.
Boyle off to a lightning start this season
In the 2020-21 Premiership season he had 79 shots at goal with 30 on target, a 33% success rate on finding the target.
He also pitched in with six assists, which for a player so pivotal to creating chances is perhaps surprisingly low.
Boyle has started the new season with a bang, netting three goals in the Europa League and in each of Hibs two Premiership games, against Ross County and Motherwell.
One of his European goals came in a 1-1 Europa Conference League draw with Croatian side HNK Rijeka, the outfit who knocked Aberdeen out of the Europa League 4-0 on aggregate in 2019.
In the 3-0 defeat of Ross County on August 8, the heat and touch maps indicate Boyle’s effectiveness on the right flank.
However, he was also a threat cutting in and had six touches in the Ross County danger area, one of them resulting in a goal.
It also indicates Boyle is willing to put in a shift defensively as he tracked back and helped out deep into his own half- despite it being a game Hibs completely dominated.
Boyle created four chances against the Staggies in the 72 minutes he was on the pitch and had a high passing accuracy of 82.7%, indicating he is clean in possession and not wasteful.
That will be a trait pivotal to the high tempo play Glass has vowed to deliver at Aberdeen.
Impressive shift in defeat of Motherwell
In the 3-2 Premiership defeat of Motherwell on the opening day of the league season, Boyle was again instrumental in securing three points.
Again he was utilised on the right flank and was highly influential in attack with more than 75% of his play in the Motherwell half.
He kept tight to the byeline to bring width to Hibs and delivered a host of balls into the box.
However, he did not hit the byeline to deliver crosses.
Instead, Boyle opted to either cross from 10 to 15 yards sort of the byeline or burst into the danger area to either find a short pass, give and go, or fire off a shot.
His pass completion rate was slightly lower in the Motherwell game coming out at 69.6%, but he had a 50% success rate with his shots at goal.
Boyle shot twice – and scored once.
Group stage cash could finance Boyle move
Aberdeen will face Qarabag in Azerbaijan on Thursday in the Europa Conference play-off first leg tie before the return at Pittodrie next week.
Should Aberdeen progress to the groups, the club will pocket £2.5m in Euro prize money.
There will also be the added revenue of gate receipts, sponsorship and television broadcast for the group games.
Each win in the group stages is also worth £427,000 in prize money with £142,000 for a draw.
Aberdeen will know if they are in the groups, or not, before the summer transfer window closes.
If they have qualified for the group stages, those extra funds could help finance a late improved bid to wrench Boyle away from Hibs.
Analysing his stats, Boyle would be worth it.