Dons boss Derek McInnes today confirmed wanted winger Gary Mackay-Steven has indicated he is open to staying at Pittodrie until at least the end of the season.
A bid from MLS side New York City for Scotland international Mackay-Steven was rejected by the Dons during the January transfer window.
Mackay-Steven is out of contract at the end of the campaign but the closure of the Scottish transfer window late on Thursday evening does not put a concrete conclusion to the situation.
The MLS transfer window opens on February 13 and does not close until May 7. However, McInnes is confident the winger will see out the season at Pittodrie.
Addressing a transfer deadline day where Aberdeen made no signings but let three leave on loan, McInnes understands the frustration of fans who wanted a new addition unveiled.
But he insists the budget for new signings had been spent on strengthening the two areas he had isolated prior to the window opening – attack and left back.
Attacker Greg Stewart was secured on loan from Birmingham City with Derby left-back Max Lowe also returning on loan.
McInnes also praised the Dons’ board for knocking back the bid for Mackay-Steven and a £5 million bid from Stoke City for defender Scott McKenna.
Asked if Mackay-Steven has indicated he is open to staying at Pittodrie for the season, McInnes said: “Yes he has. That was a key conversation we had with him.
“Their (MLS) transfer window runs to May. While Gary hasn’t decided what he is doing in the future yet, what was clear in the conversations with him is that he is really keen to maximise his time with Aberdeen. Whether that is beyond this season, we hope so.
“But certainly for this season he has ambitions to do as well as he can. Gary has been a key player for me and a brilliant signing and we are just delighted we have managed to retain his services.
“There’s a chance Gary could leave, but I’ve been given assurances we don’t need to take an offer and can work with Gary.
“You never know, but I’m pretty sure that Gary will be with us until the last kick of the ball.
“He’s got clear objectives at Aberdeen and hopefully it’s beyond this season. We’ve not gave up that hope.”
Skipper Graeme Shinnie is also out of contract at the end of the season and is on the radar of a number of English lower league clubs. The Dons have tabled a contract offer and McInnes hopes to have an answer one way or another within weeks.
He said: “Hopefully we can get some clarity on that next week or the week after.”
Aberdeen made enquiries to secure Celtic wingers Lewis Morgan and Jonny Hayes on loan.
Morgan was snapped up by Sunderland and the finances required to secure former Don Hayes’ return were outwith the Pittodrie club’s reach.
Many supporters expressed frustration at the lack of deadline day additions. Asked if he could understand that, McInnes replied: “I totally understand that there were some supporters underwhelmed that we never did a deal.
“Every supporter wants to see their club active and coming up on that ticker tape or on social media that their club has made a signing. History shows that you cannot always get what you want, but it is also important to see what we have got.
“We addressed that we needed more of an attacking threat and creativity and a left-back. We got Max Lowe in and Greg Stewart in.
“Human nature is then: ‘right, what’s next?’
“But we actually addressed what needed to be done. If Greg had come in at 11pm on Thursday night and it was announced on Sky Sports and Twitter that we had signed him, the place would be in uproar: ‘What a brilliant signing.’
“The fact of the matter is we did it a couple of weeks ago and got Greg in the building.”
Transfer deadline day was underwhelming for Dons fans hopeful of late business. There were no new additions but three exited on loan – Mark Reynolds (Dundee United), Scott Wright (Dundee) and Bruce Anderson (Dunfermline). Midfielders Chris Forrester, a £200,000 summer signing, and Greg Tansey also had their contracts terminated in January.
McInnes said: “The truth of the matter is the budget is spent so we have tried to use what we have got and the emergence of the younger ones.
“January is a tough month to recruit good players. We were always looking at what could maybe be available there.
“I didn’t just want to make a signing for the sake of it.
“Any manager would always think I would like one more.
“We certainly asked the question, and could have taken maybe a player in based on some of the players going out in terms of the budget. However, it had to be the right players, but the right players we weren’t able to bring in.
“We are running with a tighter squad now because we have let some players go out on loan.
“Every one of those loans will have a long-term benefit for the player and us. It gives game time, especially to the younger ones and I am confident that was the right thing to do for them and us in the long term.
“I did say last week I would be happy if the squad stayed intact and we worked as we were.
“While we have a tighter squad, I think we have a good squad and the emergence of the younger ones such as Ethan Ross, Frank Ross coming back, Connor McLennan and Dean Campbell.
“These boys give us the confidence that the squad will deal with what is ahead of us.”
For the third successive transfer window the Pittodrie board rejected a bid for defender McKenna.
This time it was around £5m from Stoke. Bids of £7m from Aston Villa and £3.5m from Celtic were rejected last summer.
McInnes hailed the board for standing firm to retain the Scotland international.
He said: “What we are delighted with is the fact we have managed to retain key players within the building. There is no doubt, when you have a couple of players who are out of contract in the summer, you are a bit more vulnerable to losing them.
“The board should be applauded for rejecting the offers for McKenna and Mackay-Steven, and rightly so. They are important players for us and will have an important part to play in the remainder of the season.
“Sometimes you are always feeling that you would like this and you would like that.
“But sometimes you have got to remember what you have actually got.”