Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes believes Lewis Ferguson was born to be a success and has praised the Dons midfielder for being unfazed by recent transfer speculation.
Ferguson has been linked with Rangers and also English Championship club Brentford already this summer but recently underlined his commitment to Aberdeen.
Contracted to the Dons until summer 2024, Ferguson is a player McInnes trusts and has been an integral part of his starting line-up since making his breakthrough at just 18.
Ferguson’s reputation as the hottest prospect in Scottish football was recently underlined when he was awarded the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Double Tree by Hilton Young Player of the Year award.
McInnes said: “Lewis is someone you can trust implicitly. In terms of being available, bringing a high level of performance every time and how he conducts himself in training and around the club, Lewis is brilliant.
“Lewis was born to play football and born to have a good career. He is a natural in everything he does. Lewis had to take on even more responsibility last season and we are very fortunate to have him.”
Ferguson arrived at Pittodrie in summer 2018 from Hamilton Accies having played just 14 first-team games. A dispute over the level of compensation eventually went to an SPFL tribunal but Ferguson didn’t miss a beat on the pitch and immediately became a Dons star.
Brentford, nicknamed the Bees, have been monitoring him closely with a view to a potential summer swoop.
Rangers have also been linked to the 20-year-old but Ferguson batted away speculation recently and insisted his focus is on winning trophies with Aberdeen.
McInnes said: “Lewis is never fazed by anything. He has dealt with absolutely everything that came his way.
“On coming to Aberdeen he very quickly adapted to being a main player. When he came here on his first day Lewis had only played a handful of games for Hamilton ‘s first team.
“However, his first competitive start for us was an outstanding performance against an English Premier League club in Europe (Burnley, 1-1 draw).
“Then he scores in the second leg away to Burnley. He is very unfussy, no drama and very down to earth.
“Lewis just sees games no matter how big or small they are. It is just a game of football to him which is really refreshing to see.It is what more players should see it as.
“Lewis doesn’t worry about outside pressures he just gets on with it and deals with the game.
“Regardless of the stage or the size of the game it doesn’t matter to Lewis – he just likes nothing better than playing football.”
Ferguson wasted no time in proving he is not fazed by big games when being pitched in for a debut against Premier League Burnley in the Europa League’s second qualifying round.
In the return leg, Ferguson further announced his arrival with a sublime overhead kick against the English top-flight side to put the Dons 1-0 up.
They would concede an equalizer to force extra time, losing 3-1 after 120 minutes.
However, Ferguson was in the starting line-up and has remained there ever since.
He quickly developed a knack for stepping up to the mark in high-pressure games and netted the only goal in the 1-0 League Cup semi-final defeat of Rangers at Hampden in his debut season. Both the high level of performance and consistency were inevitably going to attract admiring glances from outwith Pittodrie.
Ferguson recently admitted he was aware of the transfer speculation surrounding him, having seen it on social media.
But he said he took it in his stride and is focusing on starring for Aberdeen.
He feels confident Aberdeen have the set-up and squad to match his trophy ambitions.
McInnes wants that self-belief and confidence to course through the entire squad.
McInnes said: “Lewis saying that is absolutely right. Every player has to have the same motivation to do well.
“We can only be as strong as each other.
“In terms of that, real desire and motivation to be successful is what all our players need to have.”
Such is the level of Ferguson’s commitment and will to win, he has been prone to bookings.
In two seasons he has received 23 yellow cards and has been red-carded twice – against Celtic in the 3-0 Scottish Cup final defeat in 2018-19 and against Hibs in a 1-1 Premiership draw last season.
McInnes said: “Obviously he picks up bookings and has a suspension here and there but that is the nature of his game.”
Last season Ferguson took on added responsibility following the long-term injuries to central midfielders Craig Bryson (ankle) and Funso Ojo (hamstring tear).
Although only 20 at one point he was the senior player in the heart of that midfield, alongside teenager Dean Campbell.
His performances were rewarded by the SFWA Player of the Year award, the first Aberdeen player to secure the accolade.
McInnes said: “It is recognition from the sports writers for a boy that is destined to have a very good career.”