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REPORT CARD: All 14 of Aberdeen’s summer signings assessed

From quick settlers to imminent departures, the Dons' summer recruitment has been a mixed bag.

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin and Leighton Clarkson celebrate during a Viaplay Cup semi-final match between Hibernian and Aberdeen at Hampden Park, on November 04, 2023, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Nicky Devlin and Leighton Clarkson celebrate the 1-0 Viaplay Cup semi-final defeat of Hibs. Image: SNS

It is hard to know where to start in analysing another year of huge change for Aberdeen.

A year which started in the depths of despair led to a change of manager (again) followed by the appointment of a new one thanks to a quite remarkable rescue act from the bottom half of the table to qualification for the group stage of the Europa Conference League.

Barry Robson’s appointment towards the end of last season led to a huge summer of change at Pittodrie to prepare the Dons for Europe.

In total, Robson signed 14 players in the summer window and it was certainly needed.

There was a new goalkeeper required following Joe Lewis’ departure, a defence to be rebuilt, some loans and short-term deals made permanent, and attacking reinforcements thrown in for good measure.

But it is fair to say it has been a mixed bag.

We assess all 14 of the new faces playing for the cause.


Ross Doohan

Ross Doohan. Image: Shutterstock

Joe Lewis’ decision to call time on his Aberdeen career meant the Dons were in need of another goalkeeper and former Celtic and Ross County shot-stopper Doohan was given the role.

An Aberdeenshire Shield appearance for a Dons XI against Fraserburgh is the closest we’ve come to seeing Doohan in action at Pittodrie so far.

With Kelle Roos firmly established as the first choice goalkeeper at Pittodrie, Doohan is biding his time at this point.


Nicky Devlin

The former Livingston captain had big shoes to fill in replacing Ross McCrorie on the right-hand side of the Dons defence but he has done brilliantly.

A no-nonsense defender who loves to run up and down the line all day long it seems, Devlin has been a fine addition to Robson’s squad.

He has shown a keen eye for goal as well as some versatility, moving into the back three in the early weeks of the campaign before the manager had all his central defenders on board.

Stefan Gartenmann

Stefan Gartenmann. Image: SNS

The former Danish under-21 international was a deadline day loan signing from Midtjylland and has quickly established himself in Aberdeen’s back three.

The 26-year-old endeared himself to the Red Army by scoring the opener in his side’s 3-1 win against Rangers at Ibrox in September.

It is a measure of how quickly he has settled that Robson would like to make the loan move permanent.

Richard Jensen

The 27-year-old Finnish international joined the Dons towards the end of the summer window.

A summer-long discussion about bringing Liam Scales back to Pittodrie from Celtic ended with the Dons turning their attention elsewhere and the experienced Gornik Zabrze defender was the man earmarked for the left side of the back three.

Jensen, like Stefan Gartenmann on the right hand side, has adapted well to the rigours of Scottish football and is not afraid to put his head in where it hurts for the cause either.

Rhys Williams

Rhys Williams is set to return to Liverpool. Image: Shutterstock.

The 22-year-old’s arrival from Liverpool on loan in the summer was viewed as something of a coup back in June.

The excitement at the social media video of Leighton Clarkson greeting his old Anfield team-mate has been replaced by bemusement at Williams’ inability to make the squad most weeks, never mind the starting 11.

It has been such an underwhelming period at Pittodrie for Williams that his return to Liverpool as soon as the window opened was greeted with a collective shrug of the shoulders.

A perplexing loan period which no doubt will have fans pondering ‘what was that all about?’

Or Dadia

See above. Dadia, like Williams, ticks all the boxes on paper. An Israeli international and a player signed on loan with an option to make the move permanent sounded ideal.

Sadly, Dadia has been nowhere near the first team picture at Pittodrie and like Williams seems destined to return to his parent club this month.

If he is not going to play – and there has been scant evidence to suggest he is going to be involved – it is best for all parties to cancel the loan and move on.

Angus MacDonald

MacDonald settled instantly at Pittodrie when he joined on a short-term deal at the beginning of the year.

His partnership with Mattie Pollock and Liam Scales helped transform the Dons from a struggling side to the best of the race in the Scottish Premiership in the space of three short months.

Naturally, MacDonald was happy to sign on for more but he has not been seen too often due to Robson preferring the trio of Stefan Gartenmann, Richard Jensen and Slobodan Rubezic for the first half of the season.

Given his contribution last season it has come as a surprise to supporters to see the experienced defender benched on a regular basis.

His leadership and organisational skills at the back could still come to the fore in the second half of the season though – provided he does not seek a move and with it a chance for regular game time elsewhere.

James McGarry

New Zealand international McGarry has had a tough start since moving to the Dons from Central Coast Mariners.

Like Nicky Devlin down the right-hand side, McGarry likes to push forward and looks a solid player.

But a delayed start due to his wife giving birth, a hamstring strain and an impressive campaign from Jack MacKenzie have combined to stifle McGarry’s start to his Dons career.

Slobodan Rubezic

Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic in action during the 2-0 loss to Hibs at Easter Road. Image; Shutterstock
Aberdeen defender Slobodan Rubezic in action during the 2-0 loss to Hibs at Easter Road. Image: Shutterstock

The 23-year-old signing from Novi Pazar of Serbia was an ever-present for Robson up until December before his streak came to an end.

A big, imposing and physical centre-half, Rubezic’s performances for the Dons have led to him making the international breakthrough with Montenegro.

There is little doubt there is a player there but Rubezic remains far from the finished article at this stage.

He has been prone to switching off at times and been punished for it but he will get better as he gains more experience and his manager is convinced the 6ft 4in defender has a big career ahead of him.


Graeme Shinnie

Robson’s captain and a man whose desire mirrors that of his manager’s in his playing days.

Shinnie formed a fine partnership with Ylber Ramadani when he arrived on loan from Wigan in the summer and bringing him back to Pittodrie on a permanent deal was a no-brainer.

It is clear Shinnie remains a trusted lieutenant of his manager but he needs support in the Dons engine room.

At 32, he is moving into the veteran stage of his career at this point and could be done with a Ramadani replacement alongside him to help shoulder the burden of protecting the defence.

Leighton Clarkson

Dons fans were ready to break out the bunting when news broke Clarkson was returning on a permanent deal following a fine campaign on loan last season.

But Clarkson has as yet not managed to hit the heights he showed in his loan spell and seems to have struggled for consistency too.

Like Graeme Shinnie, perhaps the departure of Ylber Ramadani, and the impact it has had on Clarkson’s role in the side, has affected the impact he has on games.

A move back to an attacking role in Dingwall in the 3-0 win at Ross County on January 2 resulted in Clarkson’s most influential game of the season.

Dons fans will be hoping they can see more of that from the midfielder in 2024.

Jamie McGrath

Aberdeen midfielder Jamie McGrath celebrates scoring in the 4-0 Premiership win against Ross County. Image: SNS.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That could best describe Aberdeen’s repeated attempts to bring McGrath to the Dons.

Derek McInnes and Jim Goodwin both failed in attempts to bring McGrath to Pittodrie before Robson finally succeeded in the summer.

McGrath has shown why previous Aberdeen managers were keen to have him on board with some fine displays and some crucial goals.

The exciting part is you have the impression there is still so much more to come from the Republic of Ireland international.


Pape Habib Gueye

The 24-year-old striker joined the Dons at the end of August from Belgian side KV Kortrijk.

A former Senegalese under-20 international, the 6ft 2in attacker first came to prominence with Norwegian side Aalesunds and was viewed as an exciting addition to the Dons forward line.

Given Aberdeen paid a fee and handed Gueye a three-year deal it is clear they see potential there too.

But first-team opportunities have been few and far between so far and there has been little to catch the eye from what we have seen so far.

Here’s hoping there is much more to come.

Ester Sokler

Aberdeen striker Ester Sokler shoots against Rangers in the Premiership at Pittodrie. Image: SNS
Aberdeen striker Ester Sokler shoots against Rangers in the Premiership at Pittodrie. Image: SNS

The Slovenian striker, a summer signing from Radomlje in his homeland, has shown promise but has faced a tough time in establishing himself due to the form of Bojan Miovski.

Sokler looks well suited as a foil for his Dons team-mate, however, and the duo combined to great effect in Miovski’s opener in the 1-1 draw with Rangers at Pittodrie earlier in the campaign.

He showed he is also capable of finding the net with a goal in the 2-0 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa Conference League earlier this month.

You suspect a regular run would benefit the 24-year-old immensely but it is easier said than done with Miovski banging in the goals and Duk also providing competition.