Could Aberdeen’s hottest young talent Connor Barron be the next big money move out of Pittodrie in 2023?
With just 18 months of the midfielder’s deal remaining and contact talks now rumbling on for six months that is the reality facing the Dons.
Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin confirmed in June 2022 that the club had opened up talks with Barron in the bid to sign the 20-year-old on an extended contract.
Fast forward half a year and that new contract has yet to be signed despite the Dons offering a “significant offer” to the midfielder.
Aberdeen are desperate to retain Youth Academy graduate Barron who is contracted until summer 2024.
With a season and a half left on his deal there is no overwhelming rush to secure Barron’s long-term future on a new deal.
However the omens do not look good as there is still no resolution to talks that began last summer.
And there are only three transfer windows remaining, this month, summer 2023 and January 2024 to cash in on Barron before that deal expires.
If Barron opts not to sign a new contract surely the time to sell to receive the optimum transfer fee is 2023.
By January 2024 he will be free to sign a pre-contract at another club.
Or in January next year, with only six months remaining on his contract, any fee would be a drop in the ocean compared to what he is worth now.
Or Barron could leave for nothing in summer 2024 when his deal expires.
That is surely an outcome the Pittodrie board will not allow to happen.
Barron and his agent in control
Aberdeen need fees for their top young stars if they exit Pittodrie.
It is a fundamental part of the business model of sustaining, and growing, a football club.
In October chairman Dave Cormack admitted Barron and his agent are in control of the situation, not the Dons.
Cormack said: “It all comes down to whether Connor sees his future at Aberdeen beyond the two years he has left.
“We’ve made a significant offer to the player to stay with Aberdeen but we’re not in control of that situation.
“He and his agent are in control.”
Barron was on the radar of English Premier League side Brentford and Belgian top flight outfit Genk during the summer transfer window.
Celtic are also reportedly interested in the Scotland U21 international.
There will surely be more clubs tracking a talent who plays with a maturity and intelligence way beyond his years.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) December 19, 2022
Barron ‘focusing on the football’
Barron was non-committal when quizzed about his future.
When asked in early November about his contract situation, the midfielder said his main priority was regaining top form after injury absence.
Barron missed the first three months of the campaign due to a knee injury suffered during a pre-season friendly at Buckie Thistle.
On his contract situation, Barron said: “I am just focusing on the football and whatever happens from that side will happen.
“It has been a long time out and I am just back from injury.”
The ideal scenario for Aberdeen would be for Barron to sign an extended deal and play for another few seasons.
Then, after racking up more than 100 appearances, sell him for a substantial fee.
Successful transfer blueprint
It is a blueprint that successfully worked with Aberdeen Youth Academy graduate Scott McKenna who transferred to Nottingham Forest for £3 million in September 2020.
Aberdeen also landed an additional £1m when McKenna earned promotion to the English top flight with Forest last summer.
That philosophy of developing talent to star for a number of seasons in the first team before selling was also evident with Lewis Ferguson.
Midfielder Ferguson was sold in summer 2022 to Italian top flight side Bologna for £3m.
However sometimes a talent is too good and wanted so much they move on before making a sustained impact in the first team for a number of seasons.
As in the case of teenage sensation Calvin Ramsay.
Right-back Ramsay transferred to Liverpool in the summer in a deal that could be worth up to £8 million for Aberdeen.
The Dons received a £4.5m fee up front and could pocket an additional £3.5m in add-ons should Ramsay meet certain landmarks at Anfield.
Since transferring to Liverpool the teen has already played in the Champions League and made his senior Scotland international debut.
Pittodrie is no bargain basement
Should the scenario arises in 2023 where Barron will be sold the Reds have shown they are willing to play hardball, even with giants Liverpool, to get their valuation for players.
That have sent out a message to any clubs interested in Barron that they will not get him at a knock-down price.
In recent years Aberdeen have been proactive in securing their top young talent on extended contracts very early on.
In January 2021 Ramsay signed an extended contract until summer 2024.
It effectively means Aberdeen face a win-win situation.
If Barron signs a new deal they will have an exciting player at the club for many more years to help the bid for success.
A player who, going by his recent trajectory, will continue to improve and subsequently rise in value.
Or he will transfer out for a sizeable fee which can be reinvested back into the club.
The ball is in Barron’s court as to the outcome.