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ANALYSIS: Aberdeen may have unearthed a hidden gem in Ylber Ramadani

Ylber Ramadani in action for Albania against Spain.
Ylber Ramadani in action for Albania against Spain.

Aberdeen could have unearthed a hidden gem with the signing of Albanian international Ylber Ramadani.

The holding midfielder is set to become Jim Goodwin’s first signing since his appointment as Aberdeen manager.

Ramadani has agreed a two year deal with the Dons with an option for a third.

Aberdeen have agreed a fee with Hungarian club MTK Budapest for the 26-year-old.

The capture of Ramadani is proof of thinking outside the box in a transfer market.

Looking outwith Scotland for talent was needed as there are so many quality players operating under the radar overseas.

Initial indications are that Ramadani is one of those quality operators.

Midfielder Ramadani went through his Dons’ medical at the Albanian national team headquarters in Tirana as he is with the squad for Uefa Nations League games.

Aberdeen are now in the process of finalising his visa application.

Ylber Ramadani of Albania and Kalvin Phillips of England during a World Cup qualifying tie at Wembley on November 12, 2021.

Prior to spending the recently finished season in Hungary with MTK the midfielder played at Vejle Boldklub (Denmark) and FK Partizani Tirana (Albania).

For the vast majority of Dons supporters who are not well versed in Albanian, Hungarian or Danish football the midfielder will be an unknown quantity.

However Aberdeen’s European scouting network may have unearthed a player that can be the backbone of the summer rebuild.

Ramadani appears to tick all the boxes.

He is an established international who has faced top nations including Spain, France and England in recent seasons.

That experience is priceless, especially within an Aberdeen team that is going through a transitionary phase.

Ramadani’s former manager Adolfo Sormani was gushing in his praise for the midfielder when I chatted with him.

Former Juventus coach Sormani managed Ramadani at two clubs –  Vejle Boldklub (Denmark) and FK Partizani Tirana (Albania).

Having taken over the reins at Vejle Boldklub former Watford No.2 Sormani swooped for Ramadani in a £200,000 move.

Albanian international Ylber Ramadani ahead of a clash with Spain in Barcelona in March 2022.

The midfielder was key to winning the Danish second tier title under Sormani to secure promotion to the top flight.

The former Watford assistant enthused about Ramadani’s game intelligence, commitment, mentality and talent.

He also said the midfielder is a born leader who will become an icon for Aberdeen supporters.

Glowing praise indeed.

Leaders are certainly needed at Pittodrie after a disastrous season where the Reds crashed to a 10th placed finish in the Premiership.

Ramadani seems to be the type of player who will run through a brick wall for his team.

However it appears he can also back up that commitment with talent and game intelligence.

Aberdeen have been scouring the European leagues for signings.

Ramadani is the first result this summer of widening the net across the continent.

Head of Recruitment Darren Mowbray has visited Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway and Hungary in recent months.

There are further active summer signing targets in Europe.

Ramadani may not have played in any of the bigger leagues in Europe, but he has certainly performed at a decent level.

The Albanian, Hungarian and Danish leagues cannot be denigrated.

Denmark recently reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020. Hungary qualified for the Euro championships in both 2016 and 2020.

Albania qualified for Euro 2016 and recently won their UEFA Nations League group.

Although not a prolific scorer Ramadani is renowned for netting spectacular long range goals.

He is equally lethal from distance with both his left and right feet.

The capture of Ramadani will add strength to a midfield that could yet be weakened by the exit of Lewis Ferguson.

Scotland international Ferguson recently admitted he was not sure if he would still be at Pittodrie next season.

Ferguson had a written transfer request rejected in May last year after the Dons knocked back a bid of under £2m from then Premier League Watford.

Despite that setback Ferguson gave a fully committed season to the Dons and finished as the club’s top scorer on 16 goals.

Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson has a shot on goal against St Mirren at Pittodrie.

Ferguson is contracted until summer 2024 and surely the upcoming transfer window is the optimum time to cash in.

Italian club Cagliari were set to launch a £3.5m bid for Ferguson in the summer having watched the midfielder in action.

However Cagliari were recently relegated to the Italian second tier and will be a far less enticing proposition.

Regardless, there will inevitably be interest from other clubs in Ferguson this summer.

Ramadani’s imminent arrival could also offer the option for Ross McCrorie to possibly drop back into a central defensive role.

An unknown to most Aberdeen fans now, he could yet become an idol next season.

Difficult to curb emotions in play-off

It will be difficult for Scotland to control their emotions for the World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine.

I will be at Hampden tonight reporting on the game and it will be tough to curb my emotions.

How can you switch off from the horror of the war in Ukraine?

How can you disassociate yourself from the daily deaths and atrocities?

Steve Clarke has steered Scotland to the World Cup play-offs.

You can’t. I don’t want to. I don’t want to forget or block out what is happening for Ukraine – even if it is just for 90 minutes.

That just seems wrong. The players however are in a different position.

Somehow they must take out the emotion of the game and focus entirely on winning.

It will be extremely difficult. At stake is the chance of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.

The stakes for a World Cup play-off would be high in normal circumstances.

Tonight they pale in comparison to Ukraine’s.

Scotland team celebrates after Che Adams scores against Denmark in 2021.
Goal hero Che Adams celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 Scotland against Denmark.

The Ukrainians are playing to bring a semblance of hope to their war torn nation.

Regardless of what happens tonight we can all just hope peace can come to Ukraine soon.

They have suffered enough and football is an insignificance in comparison.

For 90 minutes tonight Scotland’s players will have to try to block that out.

Good luck because I know I won’t be able to.

McKenna can land Dons more cash

Aberdeen could yet land a further cash bonus following Scott McKenna’s jump up to the English Premier League.

Scotland cap McKenna secured promotion to the top flight with Nottingham Forest following a 1-0 play off final defeat of Huddersfield at Wembley.

Nottingham Forest’s Scott McKenna (right) attempts to head the ball from pressure during the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley

Aberdeen pocketed £1m from add-ons following that promotion.

However it is understood there was a 25% sell on clause inserted in the £3m transfer of McKenna to Forest in September 2020.

Now that the Pittodrie Youth graduate is in the top flight any future transfer will likely be for major money – and the Dons can cash in again.