‘You don’t often see that length of contract for a 30-year-old, but we know Niall’

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Aberdeen's Niall McGinn celebrates scoring the winning goal against Motherwell.

Dons boss Derek McInnes admits handing a bumper contract until 2021 to a 30-year-old is rare but is confident there is no risk when it is Niall McGinn.

The Northern Ireland international officially rejoined the Dons on a three-and-a-half year contract when the January transfer window opened on Monday.

Last season McGinn rejected the offer of a new Dons deal to move on when his contract expired, ending a five-year spell at Pittodrie.

However, after a frustrating four months in South Korea, McGinn terminated his contract with Gwangju to become a free agent.

McInnes had remained in contact with his former player and moved swiftly to beat off competition from Hearts and Hibs to secure his Dons return.

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There was no surprise McGinn plumped for the Reds, but there was surprise at the length of the deal the Euro 2016 star signed.

McInnes said: “You don’t often see that length of contract for a 30-year-old, but we know Niall and he didn’t pick up many injuries in his time with us and we know that he is fit.”

The Dons boss insisted the length of the deal, more than finances, was the primary factor when thrashing out a contract with the winger.

Aberdeen were happy to oblige as McInnes believes the talismanic winger operates better within the security of a long-term deal.

He also accepts landing an established international with more than 50 caps during the traditionally tough winter transfer window was a chance too good to turn down. Particularly when he had worked so closely with McGinn in the past and knew he could consistently deliver and did not constitute a fitness risk.

McInnes said: “What was clear when we got into negotiations with Niall was not so much the financial part of it, more the longevity of the contract..

“He’s a 30-year-old internationalist with still loads to prove and loads of his career ahead of him.

“If that (length of contract) was what helped get the deal done we were happy to do that.

“I know Niall and he plays his best football when he’s got that security. I gave Niall two contracts before and always felt when he re-signed, and that stability was there, he performed even better.

“Hopefully that continues with the length of this contract and it’s a good bit of business.”

McGinn netted 68 times for Aberdeen during his first five seasons and pitched in with many more assists.

“January is a difficult month to make good signings,” said McInnes.

“When you get the opportunity to bring quality into the squad then you’ve got to try and do that and that’s what we’ve done with Niall. “There’s no doubt he’s got that quality for us and he’s shown that in the past. I am sure we will all enjoy working with Niall over the next few years.”

The winger received a standing ovation from Dons fans when paraded at Pittodrie before kick-off in the 0-0 draw with Hearts at the weekend.

He is in contention to make his competitive debut against St Mirren at home in the Scottish Cup on Saturday, January 20.

Before then he will likely run out for the first time in a Reds shirt again in the closed door friendly against Uzbekistan side Lokomotiv Tashkent on Sunday, January 14, during the winter training camp in Dubai. For McInnes the stalemate against Hearts underlined the importance of McGinn’s return.

He said: “Hearts was the type of game where Niall would have been really important to us in unlocking a tight defence and bringing that bit of quality.

“We have got that to look forward to from Niall in the second part of the season.”

McGinn underwent a hernia procedure a month ago but is fully recovered and will work on regaining his match sharpness during the Dons’ warm weather training camp in Dubai next week.

“Niall has not had as much football as he’d have liked so we might be sympathetic to that for a week or two,” explained McInnes.

McGinn was the first Irish player to sign on at a South Korean side. However, his move turned sour after Gwangiu were relegated and the manager who signed him left.

McInnes said: ““There was the occasional call and text from myself and Doc (assistant Tony Docherty) was doing something similar.

“Niall was well aware of how Aberdeen were doing as well when we spoke to him.

“I always try to keep in touch with my players. When you work closely with players you build up relationships and get a fondness for them.

“So I was keen for Niall to do well in South Korea. That move was a bit obscure and came from nowhere really, but, nonetheless, I was hoping he would get the most out of it.

“It became clear after a while that it wasn’t going to be as smooth as he maybe wanted it to be.”

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