The Pittodrie exits have been confirmed … now boss Derek McInnes will focus on securing arrivals in what will be a busy summer transfer window.
McInnes confirmed he is “excited” about the prospect of a summer of rebuilding.
Prior to the final game of the season McInnes, who admits he works two transfer windows in advance, had already made contact with potential signing targets for the summer.
He is confident of emerging from the summer window with the Dons, who finished Premiership runners-up for a fourth straight season, even stronger.
In the aftermath of the season-closing 1-0 win at champions Celtic, the departure of nine Dons players was confirmed.
World Cup-bound Icelandic defender Kari Arnason’s second spell at the club is over. It is also the end for full-back Daniel Harvie and striker Nicky Maynard who left Pittodrie with the ignominious record of no goals scored.
Six loan players have also returned to their parent clubs – Kenny McLean (Norwich), Ryan Christie (Celtic), Greg Stewart (Birmingham), Dominic Ball (Rotherham United), Chidiebere Nwakali (Manchester City) and Freddie Woodman (Newcastle United).
McInnes has already secured Hamilton midfielder Lewis Ferguson, 18, on a pre-contract and keeper Danny Rogers has this week penned a two-year contract extension. The manager is also understood to be keen on signing Ross County right-back Jason Naismith.
The defender has two years left on his contract and the Staggies would want a fee.
Another key piece of summer business could yet be achieved in retaining versatile defender-midfielder Anthony O’Connor, whose Dons deal expires this summer.
McInnes and the Reds are locked in on-going talks with the 25-year-old on a new deal.
McInnes said: “I see what we have here and know that with the right ones added we can be better again.
“I am anticipating a busy summer and there will be a big turnaround for me.
“A lot of players have moved on – both our own players and the loan players.
“That gives me an opportunity to do what we need to do in the summer.
“Hopefully the team that sets out in the first game of next season will have that quality and competitive element that we have been used to over the seasons.
“I am actually excited about recruiting in the summer.
“I have known for a long time what we need to do.”
Three of the players who started in the defeat of Celtic have exited – on-loan trio McLean, Stewart and Ball. The future of O’Connor, also impressive at Parkhead, is unresolved.
“We are certainly trying to get enough good players in,” said McInnes. “I’ve identified the key positions and areas of the team that I really feel we need and I’ve felt that for a while, to be honest.
“Trying to attract those key individuals to the club is always a challenge because good players normally cost a transfer fee.
“If they’re free then they normally cost a lot in wages and we need to try to bring that quality to the team to add to the good players we’ve got.
“It’s on-going and a constant challenge to replace what we have with players like McLean, Christie and the others leaving. We’ll certainly try to bridge that gap.”
The Dons will also be able to call upon centre-back Mikey Devlin who will be essentially a summer signing.
Ex-Hamilton skipper Devlin signed in January while recovering from a long-term knee injury but will be fit to make a long-awaited debut at the start of next season.
McInnes was actively working on rebuilding long before the season ended.
He said: “We have identified players over the last few months we would like to work with.
“The whole thing has been on-going.”
Some of the exiting loan stars will be difficult to replace. McInnes had previously attempted to secure Christie on a permanent deal but had to settle for a loan move.
Celtic are keen to tie down the attacker, contracted until summer 2019, on a longer deal. If there was any indication from Parkhead that Christie could be available again McInnes would be keen to extend his 17-month spell at the Reds.
Ball has also impressed recently in a midfield role.
Stewart will return to Birmingham under new boss Garry Monk who took over the club in March this year.
The attacker has one year left on his Birmingham deal.
When asked recently by the Evening Express if he could revisit a Stewart move, McInnes said: “Who knows.
“I have enjoyed working with all of the players this season. Some have had a bigger impact than others which is always the way.
“I like working with Greg and he clearly enjoys it here. But he is a Birmingham city player again from the summer.
“There are too many factors when there are players under contract with other clubs about trying to work with them again.”
Last summer 11 players left with 10 arriving. Following the 3-0 Scottish Cup defeat to Motherwell McInnes admitted the previous two transfer windows had not been as successful as he had hoped.
He is determined that will not be the case this time.