Dons boss Derek McInnes today insisted Scott McKenna is not for sale in January and issued a hands-off warning to Hull City.
Aberdeen knocked back two bids from Championship side Hull for the centre-back over the weekend.
McInnes accepts he will eventually sell McKenna, who is “money in the bank”, but it won’t be until he has played more than 100 games for the Dons.
And when McKenna eventually does leave Pittodrie it will be for big money.
The Reds boss insisted Hull’s offers were way below their valuation of the Scotland U21 international, who recently signed a long-term deal until summer 2021.
Yet even if Hull boss Nigel Adkins had offered the Reds’ valuation of the defender, McInnes would still not sell McKenna this month.
McInnes wants to help the 21-year-old become a Scotland international before any talk of him moving in what he is convinced would be a lucrative deal.
McKenna featured as a substitute in the 2-0 friendly loss to Lokomotiv Tashkent in Dubai.
He said: “Scott McKenna is not for sale in January, I am not looking to move on any of my players.
”There’s been two bids from Hull, but the second one was just re-structured.
“What was offered (by Hull) was way below even what he is worth.
“But even if they bid what we think Scott is worth, he is not getting sold in January.
“Scott will move at some point, but it won’t be this month
“We signed him on a four-year deal and I firmly believe he will go on and prove his worth, and we will sell him at a top, top fee when it comes along
“If any more offers come in they would be wasting their time, certainly this month.”
McKenna has started 15 of the last 16 games since making a breakthrough in the 1-0 Premiership win at Motherwell in September.
The only game he did not start was due to injury as he had a tight calf.
Both Hull’s bids for the centre-back were tabled while the Reds were in their warm weather training camp in Dubai.
The second approach was for the same money, but the offer was structured differently.
That was also knocked back by the Reds.
McInnes played similar hard-ball when Cardiff City made two bids for Jonny Hayes last January and both were rejected as the winger saw out the rest of the campaign before moving to Celtic in a £1.3 million deal.
The Dons boss talked through the Hull approach with McKenna ,who is happy to continue his footballing education at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “I have spoken to Scott and he is absolutely fine.
“We have a plan for him and he has a plan for himself.
“We want to get him into the Scotland set-up if we can and want him to play 100 to 150 games before we even think about moving him on.
“He has a big part to play for us.
“For me, Scott is money in the bank anyway.
“He will get sold at some point and we certainly won’t be selling him in January.
“We have ambitions of our own to do as well as we can.
“I am enjoying working with Scott and he is enjoying getting a run of games.
“He has admittedly said himself for his own career he just wants to be playing week in week out.
“And there is no guarantee he would get that wherever he goes.
“We have talked it through. I would always tell my players if there is an offer in for them.
“I would never feel the need to speak to them if it was just speculation or an enquiry.
“But when an official offer comes in as it did I would always speak to the player.
“I think that is only fair and right.”
Meanwhile, McInnes hopes to discover within the next few days if Manchester City midfielder Chidi Nwakali will be available to face St Mirren in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.
The 21-year-old Nigerian has agreed to join on a loan deal until the end of the season.
However, a work permit is still required for Nwakali, who started against Lokomotiv Tashkent.
Any player who is over 16 years old and is not from the European Economic Area requires a work permit to play for a British club.
If a player has featured in at least 75% of his country’s competitive international games over the last two years, an endorsement will be given from the Scottish FA.
However, Nwakali has yet to be capped at senior level for Nigeria, although he was in the squad for November’s friendlies against Argentina and Algeria.
Therefore a three-man appeals panel will now weigh up whether Nwakali would contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in Scotland.
McInnes said: “We feel we have made progress on that and obviously he has to satisfy all the criteria.
“The initial criteria he had to pass, Chidi has made good progress with that.
“We have been given every indication that everything will be okay.
“Hopefully, we will get a quick answer in the middle of this week on whether he will be available for Saturday.”