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Sean Wallace: No more loan deals for Aberdeen from Celtic – any deal for Liam Scales must be permanent

European group stage football could also convince Liverpool midfielder Leighton Clarkson to return to Aberdeen... but it might all hinge on Saturday's Scottish Cup final.

Aberdeen FC's Liam Scales during a game against Ross County
Defender Liam Scales during the 1-0 defeat of Ross County while he was on loan at Aberdeen last season. Image: Shuttertock.

If Aberdeen are to secure Celtic defender Liam Scales for next season it must be on a permanent contract.

There cannot be another loan deal with the Parkhead club for the centre-back.

The Dons want to secure the 24-year-old on a permanent deal during the summer transfer window.

If that cannot be done, then Aberdeen should move on.

Scales was an integral part of a back three who secured six clean sheets during a seven-game winning streak under boss Barry Robson.

Aberdeen tried to sign Scales on a permanent contract last summer, but the Hoops did not want to sell.

The defender still has two years remaining on his contract at Celtic and recently admitted any decision on his future is out of his hands.

Liam Scales celebrates making it 1-0 Aberdeen against Rangers. Image:  SNS

Pushing through a loan deal was the only way Aberdeen could get the left-sided centre-back to Pittodrie in summer 2022.

However, there can be no loan repeat this summer if Celtic are not keen to sell.

It must be a permanent move for Scales or no deal.

Taking a player on loan from a major Premiership rival unnecessarily handicaps the Dons when going against the parent club.

Scales was ineligible to face Celtic in the four league games in the recently-finished Premiership campaign due to the terms of his loan deal.

It meant the Reds’ defence had to be reshuffled when facing Celtic.

Aberdeen’s Angus MacDonald, Mattie Pollock and Liam Scales (L-R) after the 1-0 win at Ross County. Image: SNS

Aberdeen can’t afford to rip up their back-line for the toughest game of the season.

The Dons ultimately lost all four Premiership games to the league champions, conceding 12 goals and failing to score.

A loan from Celtic gives them another advantage over Dons before a ball is kicked

Facing Celtic is tough enough without being forced to take out a key first team starter in the defence for every game against them.

If Aberdeen have any aspirations of pushing Celtic in one-off league games – and for silverware – they cannot take a loan player from them.

The optics of accepting a player on loan from a rival is not good and it gives Celtic the upper hand before a ball is even kicked in anger in the new season.

If Aberdeen land Celtic in the Scottish Cup or League Cup they would be without Scales for the tie.

It has happened before.

Scotland international Ryan Christie was taken in on loan from Celtic during the 2016-17 campaign under manager Derek McInnes.

Christie was superb and helped Aberdeen book a spot in the Scottish Cup final when scoring a free-kick in the 3-2 semi-final defeat of Hibs.

Ryan Christie in his time at Aberdeen on loan from Celtic. Image: SNS

However, he had to sit out the final against parent club Celtic.

Christie, who is now a regular starter in the English Premier League with Bournemouth, was ineligible to face Celtic in the Hampden final to the terms of his loan.

Arguably Aberdeen’s player of the season – their creative spark – Christie was wiped out from a final the Dons would lose 2-1.

If Aberdeen have genuine aspirations of winning silverware, why take a player on loan from one of the favourites to lift the trophy?

It doesn’t make sense.

It didn’t make sense in 2017 when Christie sat out the Scottish Cup final and it didn’t make sense this season with Scales missing four league games against the Hoops.

Reds must up game against Celts next season – after woeful 22/23 head-to-head record

Aberdeen need to substantially up their game against Celtic next season.

The Dons had a woeful record against the league champions in 2022/23.

Aberdeen mustered just three shots on target and eight shots in total in the four league matches against Celtic this term.

The Dons failed to muster a shot at goal in the 5-0 hammering at Parkhead on Saturday.

Aberdeen have failed to get a shot on target in the last three games against Celtic – 270 minutes without testing the keeper.

In contrast, Celtic had 84 shots with 37 on target against the Dons over the season.

Aberdeen could only manage a meagre 12 shots, with just three on target.

That has to improve. And taking Scales in on loan will not do that.

Euro groups could secure Clarkson

European group stage football might be the final piece in the puzzle in Aberdeen’s bid to sign Leighton Clarkson.

Liverpool midfielder Clarkson confirmed he is now thinking about his future having helped the Dons qualify for Europe, and the 21-year-old has given an indication he could be back at Pittodrie next season.

Aberdeen have an agreement in place with Liverpool for the England under-20 international’s return and hope to secure him on a permanent deal.

Aberdeen’s Leighton Clarkson celebrates his goal against St Mirren. Image: SNS

Clarkson has a year remaining on his contract with the six-time European champions.

Agreeing personal terms with the midfielder is the final remaining hurdle for the Dons.

But Clarkson is considering his options, with a number of English lower league clubs also battling to land the playmaker.

Reading, recently relegated to League One, are one of the clubs reportedly interested in landing Clarkson this summer.

A number of English Championship clubs are also interested in securing his services.

Whether he picks Aberdeen could all hinge on Saturday’s Scottish Cup final between Celtic and Inverness Caley Thistle.

If Celtic complete the treble, Aberdeen will enter the Europa League at the qualifying play-off stage.

That will be only one two-legged tie away from the group stages and guaranteed European football until mid December.

Even defeat in the play-offs comes with the back-up of dropping straight into the Conference League group stages.

However, should Inverness Caley Thistle win the Scottish Cup, the Dons will enter the Conference League at the third qualifying round.

Guaranteed European group stage football until December is an attractive proposition  – surely far more attractive than League One action with Reading.

Sutherland’s Granite City return

Aberdeen boxing star Dean Sutherland returns to the Granite City for the first time since his Commonwealth title heartache.

Southpaw Sutherland, a.k.a. “Deadly”, will face Zimbabwe’s Brendon Denes at the Beach Ballroom on Saturday night.

It is the first time Sutherland has fought in his home city since losing a Commonwealth title clash to Louis Greene by stoppage in November last year.

Aberdeen boxer Dean Sutherland. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson
Aberdeen boxer Dean Sutherland. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson

Sutherland returned to winning ways with an emphatic defeat of Ramiro Blanco in Glasgow in February.

I fully expect him to defeat Denes to take another step to a major title shot.