Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin aims to bring in ‘young, ambitious and hungry’ players after wielding the Pittodrie axe.
Goodwin has confirmed six players will exit the club to make way for new signings in a summer squad rebuild.
Scotland cap Dylan McGeouch, Funso Ojo and Michael Ruth will leave the Dons following the conclusion of their contracts.
Long-serving Andy Considine, 35, will also exit and said an emotional farewell to supporters in the 0-0 draw with St Mirren on Sunday.
Loan players Adam Montgomery (Celtic) and Teddy Jenks (Brighton and Hove Albion) have also returned to their parent clubs.
Goodwin said: “In order for this club to get back to where it belongs, we need to bring in some young, ambitious, hungry players who are going to improve us.
“We had an opportunity with the number of players who were out of contract to freshen things up in the summer.
“We need to freshen things up in this football club.
“There are a number of good players that will be retained for next season and are under contract.
“It is about the calibre of players we bring in to compliment that which will be the most important thing.
“The hard work has already begun to identify the types of players required to take this great club back to where it belongs.
“The new players will add a freshness to the group, and much needed competition for places.”
Goodwin wields the Pittodrie axe
Goodwin had already released players long before the season ended with the contracts for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Mikey Devlin terminated.
Veteran midfielder Scott Brown also left the club in March to focus on his coaching career.
Brown was recently appointed Fleetwood Town manager.
Goodwin admits he faces a ‘huge summer’ due to the amount of players that have left –nine in total since he arrived at the club.
The Pittodrie clear-out has paved the way for a major reconstruction of an underperforming squad in the summer.
Aberdeen slumped to a 10th placed Premiership finish, the club’s lowest league position since 2004.
Goodwin said: “It is a huge summer because of the volume of players that are leaving.
“There’s been a number of really good servants to the club.
“They leave with the greatest amount of respect and best wishes.
“There’s a lot of work to be done.”
Exit news delivered to players early
He admitted there were tough discussions as he delivered the bombshell that players were surplus to requirements.
Goodwin previously said he delivered the news early to players that they would be leaving to allow them plenty of time to fix up new clubs in the summer.
Goodwin said: “I genuinely believed I could get them lifted and get into the top six.
“We weren’t able to do that but I do think there has been a number of contributing factors.
“We had a number of difficult conversations with a lot of players who are out of contract.
“A lot of them knew that their futures are not at Aberdeen
“It has been an extremely difficult period.
“As you can imagine the atmosphere in the camp hasn’t been where I would like it to be.”
Scotland international Considine is the highest profile casualty of Goodwin’s squad clearance.
A one year contact extension for Considine, 35, was withdrawn after talks broke down.
Considine is fourth in Aberdeen’s all time appearance list – behind only Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Bobby Clark.
McGeouch, Ojo and Ruth all exit
Midfielder McGeouch, 29, has made just 27 starts since signing from Sunderland in January 2020.
Scotland cap McGeouch made a further 17 appearances off the bench.
McGeouch last started for Aberdeen in a 3-2 loss to Celtic on February 9, under former manager Stephen Glass.
Belgian midfielder Ojo spent the second half of last season on loan at Wigan Athletic.
The 30-year-old returned to Pittodrie last summer and admitted he thought his Pittodrie career was over.
However Ojo started the first game of the season, a 5-1 Europa Conference League defeat of BK Hacken, and became a regular first team starter.
Ojo made 39 appearances this season, scoring once.
He racked up 67 starts for the Dons with a further 11 appearances off the bench.
Ojo was introduced as a substitute in the 61st minute in the final game of the season, against St Mirren.
Striker Ruth, 20, started for the first time in the 1-0 loss to St Johnstone on Wednesday.
He featured as a substitute in the 0-0 stalemate with St Mirren.
Teenage left-back Montgomery, 19, made four starts with a further three substitute appearances following his January loan move from Celtic.
Brighton midfielder Jenks, 20, secured 10 starts with a further 14 appearances off the bench, scoring twice in a season long loan.
Tough calls for ‘brighter days ahead’
Goodwin insists tough calls were made on players’ futures because he wants to ensure there are ‘brighter days ahead’.
He said: “We are very much in a transitional period where a number of players, some of whom who have had a long association with the club, must now move on for one reason or another.
“It is never an easy decision to make.
“Having had time to assess the squad in the latter part of the season, these decisions have been taken to enable us to build a competitive first team for next season.
“And to ensure there are brighter days ahead.
“As much as the 2021/22 season is still a bit raw, we can’t change it.
“We must learn from the mistakes that were made and look forward to the 2022/23 season with excitement and optimism.”