Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has backed Kenny McLean to follow in James Maddison’s footsteps and become a success at Norwich City.
Twelve months after Maddison left Pittodrie after his loan spell in the Granite City, McLean is following the same path down to East Anglia.
While McLean’s impact has been over a more sustained period of time, both players have impressed the man that brought them to Aberdeen. Derek McInnes signed McLean from St Mirren for £275,000 in January 2015 and he has become the lynchpin of the club’s midfield, earning Scotland recognition in the process.
McLean has spent the second half of the season on loan from Norwich and played his final game for the Dons at Parkhead on Sunday. McInnes is in no doubt what player the Carrow Road club are getting.
He said: “It’s a brilliant signing for Norwich and it’s a brilliant move for Kenny as well and the right one. They are trying to adjust to dropping out of the Premier League in recent years and trying to move on a lot of their high earners.
“That means Kenny will go in as a key player for them and play a lot of games and it’s important he does that and establishes himself. He was St Mirren’s best player when he came to me and he has arguably turned into our best player and certainly one of the key ones at Aberdeen. I think he will go to prove exactly the same thing with Norwich by becoming one their most reliable players in the future.”
His time working with Maddison was a great degree shorter but he still made an impact. The free-kick against Rangers at Pittodrie endeared him to the Red Army and teed him up to return to Norwich with a spring in his step.
Amid the rebuilding job done by Daniel Farke, the ex-Borussia Dortmund reserve team coach, Maddison has emerged as a star with 15 goals in 49 games.
McInnes said: “Maddison was always one that was seen from an early age as a player everyone was getting excited about. For Coventry City to sell him for three or four million pounds to Norwich as a 17-year-old suggests everybody saw that potential in him.
“James by his own admission needed to go out and play at a good level and get that robustness which his time with us helped him with. He went back to Norwich a bit more ready to play in their first team. He always had the swagger and the confidence to back himself.
“He took a bad knock in their last game of the season and hopefully it’s nothing too serious but he might be out for a while. But he is certainly one who has grabbed his chance in the Championship and I’m not surprised Premier League clubs in England are looking at him.
“There’s more than a few managers who have asked me about him and that’s no surprise as he can play for the majority of teams in the top flight.”