Although only 26 years old, Ylber Ramadani is relishing the role of “old man” in the Aberdeen midfield.
Summer signing Ramadani has operated in a defensive midfield role behind rising stars Connor Barron and Leighton Clarkson.
Scotland U21 cap Barron is 20 and on-loan Liverpool star Clarkson aged 21.
Albanian international Ramadani is loving his role as the experienced campaigner in the heart of the Reds’ midfield.
However the 23-times capped international insists he is also learning from “big talents” Barron and Clarkson.
He said: “I’m the old man in the midfield. Connor and Leighton are very young players but they have a lot of quality.
“Sometimes I need to speak to them but they help me too. We talk to each other all the time in the middle of the park.
“We are a good combination. They are big talents and I think they will have good careers.”
Barron’s talent immediately clear
Fans’ favourite Ramadani was secured in a £100,000 transfer from Hungarian club MTK Budapest until summer 2025.
The midfielder says he recognised Aberdeen Youth Academy graduate Barron’s quality during his first day of training with the Reds.
Aberdeen have offered Barron a new contract but the 20-year-old recently said he was focusing solely on football after long term injury.
Barron’s current Dons deal expires in summer 2024.
Celtic, Premier League Brentford and Belgian club Genk have all recently been linked with the midfielder.
Barron missed the first three months of the campaign with a knee injury suffered in a pre-season friendly.
Ramadani said: “I remember the first time I saw Connor in training we were playing small-sided games and I could see his quality.
“You have to keep working hard though if you want to succeed and that’s what he needs to do.”
Happy in a more defensive role
Midfield enforcer Ramadani scored twice in 31 appearances for MTK Budapest in the Hungarian top flight last season.
He had transferred to MTK last summer from Danish top flight outfit Vejle Boldklub (VB).
So far Ramadani has pitched in with one goal for the Dons, a superb volley in the 4-1 home defeat of Hibs.
😀 We all enjoyed this one.
🇦🇱 A first Dons goal for Ylber Ramadani. pic.twitter.com/tNDZTYfr7K
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) November 5, 2022
The midfielder says he is playing in a deeper role than at MTK Budapest, but is content in that position.
He said: “Last season I was playing more offensively but this year I am playing more defensively.
“But I don’t mind that and I am happy.”
Old MTK team-mates thriving
Ramadani was not the only Dons’ signing from MTK Budapest in the summer.
The Reds also raided the Hungarian club for striker Bojan Miovski in a £535,000 transfer.
North Macedonian international Miovksi, signed until summer 2026, has made an immediate impact.
The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals for the Reds in all competitions.
Miovski is joint top scorer in the Premiership with Rangers’ Antonio Colak.
However Ramadani has been equally as important to the Dons’ revival this season.
Ramadani has started every game for manager Jim Goodwin since arriving at Pittodrie.
He has been fundamental in Aberdeen’s rise to third in the Premiership table going into the winter break.
Aberdeen also face Rangers in the League Cup semi-final at Hampden on Sunday, January 15.
Ramadani targets Europe and cup glory
Ramadani is determined to keep Aberdeen in third spot to secure European competition.
Aberdeen had competed in Europe for eight straight seasons from 2013-14 but that run ended this campaign.
Ramadani said: “We need to maintain the winning mentality in every game.
“Third place is the goal and we have to work very hard every day if we are going to do that.
“I came here to play European football and to win something.
“We must continue to work towards that.”