Aberdeen’s rejection of a £2 million bid for Lewis Ferguson underlines manager Stephen Glass’ battle to retain their “valuable” players as he bids to strengthen the squad for next season.
Following the dismissal of the Hornets’ bid, which Aberdeen slated as an “insulting offer”, midfielder Ferguson slapped in a written transfer request.
Ferguson is contracted to the Dons for another three years and the Reds are in no hurry to sell their star asset.
Glass views the 21-year-old as an integral part of a squad he will strengthen during the summer transfer window.
It will take Watford, or another club, to blow Aberdeen’s record transfer fee of £3m (for Scott McKenna) out of the water for the Reds to think about parting with the Scotland Under-21 international.
Ultimately every player has a price, but Watford were woefully below Aberdeen’s valuation, which is understood to be £5m plus.
Aberdeen’s valuation is based on Ferguson’s consistently high levels for three seasons, inevitable Scotland senior caps, value to the Dons team, undoubted potential to improve further and the length of his Pittodrie contract.
With Ferguson – the Reds top scorer in 2020-21 with 10 goals – tied to a deal until summer 2024, Aberdeen hold all the cards.
Prior to the final game of the season against Rangers, Dons manager Glass had reiterated the importance or retaining key players while also securing strong signings.
He said: “It is important that we try to keep the players at the club who are hugely valuable to us.”
Premiership champions Rangers are also monitoring Ferguson’s situation.
However, Ferguson, short-listed for the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year award, clearly sees his long term future in the English Premier League.
That is understandable as it is the biggest stage in world club football.
Watford, recently promoted to the English top flight, are understood to be considering another bid for the midfielder.
The rejection of the Hornets’ bid led to Ferguson’s representative Bill McMurdo’s condemning the Dons’ handling of the situation, claiming a gentleman’s agreement was in place for Aberdeen not to stand in the midfielder’s way should a Premier League side come calling.
The Dons are saying no more on Ferguson than their recent statement.
Aberdeen could also face a similar decision on another Scotland U21 midfielder, Ross McCrorie, who is on League One Sunderland’s radar.
It is understood the Black Cats are weighing up a bid of around £1m for McCrorie, who joined the Dons on a permanent deal until summer 2024 on January transfer deadline day.
McCrorie was initially on a loan deal from Rangers, with the midfielder set to pen a three-year permanent deal for £350,000.
That deal was fast-tracked in January when Scott Wright went from Pittodrie to Ibrox.
Welsh international attacker Ryan Hedges has one year left on his contract and would be free to talk to other clubs from January 1, if the Reds do not tie him down on an extended deal.
Aberdeen Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year-winner Hedges recently said he anticipated Aberdeen to open talks on his future soon.
Prior to the Rangers clash, Glass reiterated his desire to build the squad around those “valuable” players, saying: “There is a really good crop of young players at the club as well as the experienced players.
“It is important that we don’t get caught up talking about what we can bring in to the club.
“It is also about what we can keep at the club.
“There is a great base here.”
Aberdeen model is to buy when the price is low and sell when it’s high – but the timing has to be right
Ferguson will be sold. That is a given.
Whether it is this summer, January, next summer or beyond remains the only unknown.
That is philosophy of the club. Develop young talent through the youth academy or, like with Ferguson, sign them young and raw and develop them.
The plan is for them to make at least 100 first team starts to help deliver success to the club, ideally secure international recognition, and then be sold on for millions of profit.
It is a blue-print that has already paid dividends this season with Pittodrie youth academy graduate and Euro 2020-bound Scotland international McKenna sold to Nottingham Forest for £3m, plus achievable add-ons.
Sam Cosgrove, bought for just £30,000 with no senior goals, was sold to Birmingham City in January for £2m after delivering two seasons of 20-plus goals.
It becomes a case of when to sell to get maximum cash value while also getting maximum value on the pitch for Aberdeen in the bid for success.
It is a fine balance shown by the transfer saga involving McKenna, who like Ferguson, also slapped in a transfer request.
Aberdeen rejected a £6.5m bid for McKenna in summer 2018 because the offer came too late in the transfer window to source a replacement of similar quality.
Although the Dons got nearly another two seasons out of the centre-bac,k he was eventually sold to Nottingham Forest for £3m.
Although he has handed in a transfer request, you can be certain – if Ferguson is still at Aberdeen next season – his commitment and work rate for the Reds will not diminish one iota.
The midfielder is clearly a consummate professional and will give his all.
And Glass will continue to have him at the heart of his team.
The club is greatly disappointed to have received a written transfer request from midfielder Lewis Ferguson today.
This request was rejected immediately.
More details ⬇️
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) May 19, 2021
Ferguson’s desire to move south understandable, as is Aberdeen’s decision to play hard-ball
It is understandable Ferguson is drawn to playing in the Premier League.
It is the biggest stage in world football and Ferguson will have watched the ascent of Scotland internationals like Andy Robertson (Liverpool) and John McGinn (Aston Villa) down south having secured moved from Scottish Premiership teams.
If Ferguson goes to the Premier League this summer, or later, it will be on Aberdeen’s terms and only for the fee they believe he is worth.
Aberdeen are right to play hard-ball with interested teams for a player who Glass views as fundamental to the team.
And Ferguson, by signing a long-term contract extension, gave them that right.
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— EveningExpress Sport (@ee_sport) May 18, 2021