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Player Focus: Italian Job would be folly for Aberdeen’s key man Lewis Ferguson

Lewis Ferguson is congratulated after scoring the equaliser against Rangers
Lewis Ferguson is congratulated after scoring the equaliser against Rangers

Lewis Ferguson may be a man in demand but he once again highlighted why he remains an integral figure for Aberdeen.

He capped a solid display with the goal which earned the Dons a share of the spoils against Rangers at Pittodrie as his second half penalty cancelled out Ianis Hagi’s opener for the Premiership champions.

History has shown anything is possible in football but the notion the Dons would allow Ferguson to leave for Italy on loan is a stretch.

Cagliari reportedly want the combative midfielder and are willing to pay £3.5million in the summer should he help the club stay in Serie A.

It’s not difficult to see why any team would be interested in Ferguson’s qualities but it is hard to see Aberdeen agree to such an offer.

The fee is open to debate for starters but sending a prized asset out on loan, weakening your own team and then playing a waiting game to see whether the team you sent him to avoid relegation so they can pay the agreed sum seems a needlessly risky proposition.

For all the talk of the mental strength and influence on the team Scott Brown possesses Ferguson remains the heartbeat.

Lewis Ferguson celebrates his equaliser

Simply put, the midfielder, who made his 150th appearance for the club against Rangers, starts when fit.

He did so for Derek McInnes, who brought him to Pittodrie from Hamilton, and the trend has continued following Stephen Glass’ arrival in March last year.

Ferguson is second on Aberdeen’s goalscoring charts so far this season behind Christian Ramirez. The trusted penalty taker and a set-piece threat, he is a vital cog in the Dons machine.

It was Ferguson’s strength which created the first chance of the game at Pittodrie with the midfielder holding off Glen Kamara to start the move which ended with Teddy Jenks’ clipping the post from the edge of the box.

Concentration and organisation was key from Ferguson and his team-mates in a strong start against the champions but it all unravelled in contentious circumstances within the space of 20 first half seconds.

Hedges was through on goal and clipped by Allan McGregor after lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

Aberdeen’s claim for a penalty was rejected

The easy decision should have been to award the penalty with the debate then on whether McGregor should be shown a yellow or red card.

Referee Kevin Clancy thought otherwise, letting play continue and Rangers broke upfield, cutting through the Dons with ease as Ryan Kent delivered the final pass of a sweeping move with a cross for Ianis Hagi to beat Joe Lewis from six yards.

Aberdeen, with some justification, can feel hard done by with the official but there is no disputing they collectively switched off and were punished.

Ferguson clearly thought a lapse in concentration could work in his favour as he fired in an audacious effort from a halfway line after the restart which McGregor was relieved to see land on the roof of his net.

With Rangers seemingly settling for what they had in the second half Aberdeen needed to find a way back into the game and it was Ferguson who provided it.

Clancy may have dithered in his first half spot kick call but he had no hesitation in awarding a penalty when Aberdeen made their second appeal after Alfredo Morelos had blocked Ferguson’s effort with his arm.

Ferguson kept his composure to put the Dons back on level terms, firing past McGregor to earn the Dons the point their play had merited.

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