Evening Express

Aberdeen boss was always confident McKenna would be at Pittodrie when transfer window closed

Scott McKenna.

Boss Derek McInnes today claimed the Dons were always confident of retaining Scott McKenna beyond the transfer window.

Aberdeen rejected a  mammoth £7 million bid for the Scotland international from Aston Villa on transfer deadline day.

Villa boss Steve Bruce had hoped to secure the 21-year-old in the late throws of the window.

Although the English transfer window closed on August 9, clubs outside the top flight could still take players on loan with an option to buy in January until 5pm last night.

Aberdeen immediately rejected the approach from Villa as the Pittodrie board retained a hard-line stance McKenna was not for sale in this window.

The Dons value McKenna, contracted until 2023, at £10m and are convinced the centre-back is destined for a big money move to the English Premier League.

McInnes said: “We always felt confident that once the English Premier League window closed Scott would definitely be remaining with us.

“We were confident we had made a decision as a club that Scott’s development is with us for the next year. We felt that.”

Villa boss Bruce prioritised strengthening his defence as he had only two centre backs in James Chester and Axel Tuazebe.

Defensive midfielder Mile Jediank and right-back James Bree have been used in central defence for Villa this season.

Aston Villa are the third club during the summer transfer window to either make a bid for McKenna or show an interest – and be sent packing.

Championship Swansea made an enquiry about the defender’s availability days before the English transfer window closed for signing players permanently.

The Swans were told the Pittodrie Youth Academy graduate was not for sale.

Premiership rivals Celtic then pitched in with a bid of £3.5m and again the Reds did not deviate from their stance.

After talks at board level, and between bosses Brendan Rodgers and McInnes, the Parkhead club cooled their interest.

Rodgers admitted earlier this week Celtic’s interest in McKenna was dead – for this window.

McKenna’s value has rocketed in less than a year as the Reds threw out a bid in excess of £1m from Hull City for the defender in January.

The centre-back, who captained Scotland in the 1-0 loss to Mexico earlier this summer, is currently sidelined with a torn hamstring.

This rules him out of Scotland’s upcoming games against Belgium on Friday and Albania in the UEFA Nations League the following Monday.

However, he will be back after the international break. McInnes said: “Scott will be fit for the St Johnstone game after the international break.”

Retaining McKenna could be the key piece of business in a transfer window where McInnes signed eight players.

There were no transfer deadline day additions, but Derby County left-back Max Lowe arrived on a loan deal on Thursday until January. Lowe goes straight into the squad for today’s home Premiership clash with Kilmarnock.

McInnes secured Chris Forrester on a £200,000 transfer from Peterbrough and also completed permanent moves for Republic of Ireland international midfielder Stephen Gleeson and keeper Tomas Cerny.

Teenage midfielder Lewis Ferguson was secured from Hamilton.

The 18-year-old has been a revelation since arriving at Pittodrie and is a regular first team starter.

Aberdeen initially offered £100,000 for Ferguson, but Accies wanted £900,000 then ramped that up to £1.2m following his impressive start.

With the teams unable to reach a compromise, it went to an SPFL compensation tribunal, with the Reds ordered to pay around £250,000.

The Dons also landed Manchester United striker James Wilson on a season-long loan deal, while Dominic Ball returned to Pittodrie on loan from Rotherham, with defender Tommie Hoban coming in from Watford for the season too. McInnes said: “The squad is looking quite strong.

“We’ve had a few injuries to contend with so Max Lowe helps settle us down in that defensive side of it.”