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Sean Wallace: Aberdeen must sign Funso Ojo and Jonny Hayes on new deals

Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes (L) and Funso Ojo are both out of contract at the end of the season.
Aberdeen's Jonny Hayes (L) and Funso Ojo are both out of contract at the end of the season.

Aberdeen must move to secure versatile duo Funso Ojo and Jonny Hayes on new contracts.

The deals for Hayes and Ojo expire at the end of the campaign and both are key, versatile players.

Although both are in their 30s, Ojo (30) and Hayes (34) have shown more than enough this season to warrant new contracts.

Long-serving attacker Niall McGinn, 34, exited Aberdeen for Dundee on an 18-month deal.

McGinn’s Aberdeen contract was set to expire in the summer and his game time had been limited with the Dons this season.

However, Ojo and Hayes are both regular first team starters for manager Stephen Glass.

Ojo has impressed all term and Hayes has rediscovered his top form in recent months.

He has rolled back the years recently with rampaging runs down the flank and dangerous crosses into the penalty area.

Republic of Ireland international Hayes may be in the twilight of his career now, but he has lost none of his lightning pace.

Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes in action against Edinburgh City in the Scottish Cup.

Nor has his fight for the game and appetite to race up and down the wing diminished.

Even at left-back, Hayes provides an attacking threat and is tenacious and dogged in defence.

Hayes has racked up 60 starts with a further eight appearances off the bench since returning to Aberdeen in summer 2020.

Having left Pittodrie for Celtic in 2017, he came back in 2020 a better player with three league titles and a further three trophies to his name.

The winger’s affection for the club was shown when he deferred his wages for a year to push through the deal to sign for Aberdeen deal in summer 2020.

Dundee United and English Championship Reading both wanted to sign Hayes, but he was willing to play for nothing for a year to rejoin the Reds.

Rangers’ Ryan Kent (left) exchanges words with Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes in the 1-1 draw.

Once a Don, always a Don. That gesture came when Aberdeen were facing a £10 million reduction in revenue as a consequence of the coronavirus shutdown.

Hayes’ commitment and work rate is always exceptional – and he also adds skill, pace and vision to that graft.

He was superb in the 1-1 draw with Rangers and the sweeping cross-field ball from deep in his own half to find Ryan Hedges was excellent.

It should have yielded a penalty, but bizarrely referee Kevin Clancy waved play on after Hedges was poleaxed by keeper Allan McGregor.

Winger Hayes has also shown his versatility by dropping back, and impressing, at left-back when needed this season.

Surely he has proven there is still enough left in the tank to warrant a new contract.

To his credit, Belgian midfielder Ojo has completely resurrected his Aberdeen career this season.

The Pittodrie exit appeared to be looming for Ojo when he was sent on loan to League One strugglers Wigan Athletic last January.

Aberdeen’s Funso-King Ojo (16) during the Scottish Cup match against Edinburgh City.

On returning to Aberdeen in the summer, Ojo was informed his No.8 shirt had been given to new signing and team captain Scott Brown.

It was another blow for Ojo, who admitted he was  ‘almost done with the game’ and thought about returning to Belgium to start a new career in real estate or personal training.

However, Ojo was given a chance by Glass to impress in pre-season and grabbed it.

Performances during pre-season training convinced Glass to pitch Ojo in from the start of the first game of the season against BK Hacken in Europe.

Ojo hasn’t looked back since and has racked up 24 starts. He is thriving in a more advanced role under Glass that allows him more freedom to express himself.

That freedom has allowed the former Belgium U21 international’s skill and game vision to shine.

Aberdeen’s Funso-King Ojo (16) in action in the Scottish Cup defeat of Edinburgh City.

Ojo’s versatility has also been evident under Glass as already this season he has featured, and impressed, at full-back, attacking midfield, defensive midfield and on the wing.

He has the game intelligence to play in many roles. That flexibility has been valuable this season… and ideally beyond.

The focus for the Dons during the January window has been on sourcing new signings and preparing for potential raids on key players.

However, when the window shuts, focus will then switch to players set to go out of contract at the end of the season.

Ojo and Hayes have surely done enough to warrant extending their Pittodrie careers.

Aberdeen’s Funso Ojo celebrates making it 1-1 against Hearts

Bologna’s bid for Ramsay too low

Bologna’s bid of £3.3m for Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsay is way off the mark.

The Italian Series A side have made the first bid in the race to sign the 18-year-old during the January transfer window.

Bologna are ready to offer €4m plus further future incentives for the teen.

The £3.3m would break the Dons club record fee received, which is £3m for the transfer of Scott McKenna to Nottingham Forest in September 2020.

Calvin Ramsay in action during the 3-0 Scottish Cup defeat of Edinburgh City

However, Bologna would need to ramp up that initial offer to get the Dons to contemplate parting with Ramsay.

Bologna breaking cover in the race to land Ramsay could spark a bidding war.

A host of English Premier League clubs are all interested in Ramsay.

Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds and Southampton all watched the talented teen, in action in the 1-1 draw with Rangers.

Aberdeen’s Calvin Ramsay (22) crosses against Edinburgh City.

Some of them are set to step up their interest so Bologna’s bid could be the catalyst to spark bids from other clubs.

Ramsay is contracted until summer 2024 and has posted the most assists of any teenage defender in world football.

If clubs do not match Aberdeen’s valuation, he will remain at Pittodrie.

If Ramsay does exit, with Jack Gurr having also left for Sacramento Republic in the United States, Aberdeen will need a right-back signing plan B.

Aberdeen’s Calvin Ramsay (22) during the Scottish Cup tie against Edinburgh City.

Aberdeen spreading scouting net

Aberdeen’s capture of winger Vicente Besuijen could be an exciting signing as the 20-year-old has experience in the  Dutch top-flight.

Besuijen played 30 games for ADO Den Haag in the Eredivisie last season before the club were relegated.

Of those, 23 were starts, so the 20-year-old has clear pedigree of playing at a high level.

In the Dutch second-tier this season, he has pitched in with six goals and 10 assists in 25 games.

Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass insists Besuijen is an attacking player who can play anywhere across the front.

The hope is that he will make an immediate impact to the Dons’ attack.

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