Aberdeen were today braced for a transfer deadline day swoop for Scotland international defender Scott McKenna.
The Dons rejected a £5 million offer from Championship side Stoke City for the centre-back, who is contracted until 2023 and Middlesbrough are also believed to have made an enquiry.
Stoke’s bid is well below Aberdeen’s valuation for the 22-year-old.
The Dons rejected a bid of £7m from Aston Villa on transfer deadline day last summer and also kicked out a £3.5m bid in that window from Celtic. Dons boss Derek McInnes accepts McKenna will eventually move in a big money transfer to England, but would like to keep the stopper until at least the summer.
McInnes has previously stated he believes McKenna is ultimately destined for the Premier League.
However, he will only move on if a club matches Aberdeen’s valuation, which is close to eight figures.
With the defender tied to a four-and-a-half-year deal, Aberdeen are firmly in the driving seat.
It is understood if a club were to match that valuation the Dons would push to have McKenna back on loan until the end of the season on a deal similar to tbe one that saw Kenny McLean return having signed for Norwich last January.
That is likely to rule out Stoke as new boss Nathan Jones wants defensive reinforcements now.
Jones this week signed defender Danny Batth from Wolves for £3m.
Stoke have four senior centre-backs and sources indicate, to finance an improved offer, one of those stoppers would have to be transferred out for a fee, which there is no indication will happen.
Stoke have been tracking McKenna for the last 12 months and, although in the second tier, can offer Premier League level wages.
Top-flight Wolves and Championship sides West Brom and Swansea also have the centre-back on their radar.
McKenna is currently out injured with a hamstring injury sustained in the 0-0 draw with Kilmarnock.
A scan confirmed the damage was not as severe as the hamstring injury that ruled him out for six weeks at the start of the season.
However, he is set to miss the next two to three games.
Whether his next match will be at Aberdeen or elsewhere was set be clarified by the close of the transfer window at 11pm tonight.
Reports today also suggested that the Dons had turned down a bid from New York City for Gary Mackay-Steven.
The MLS side have made an offer to the winger to join in June when his contract at Pittodrie expires, but, with City’s season starting in March, they could buy him now so Mackay-Steven is available for the start of the campaign.
Meanwhile, McInnes was today hopeful of securing at least one new signing. He has already secured Birmingham City attacker Greg Stewart, pictured, and Derby County left-back Max Lowe on loan until the end of the season.
Aberdeen are understood to have investigated a potential loan move for Celtic winger Jonny Hayes.
The Republic of Ireland international winger moved to Parkhead from the Dons in a £1.3m move in summer 2017, but his first team chances have been limited recently.
However, the finances required to force through such a deal look to be outwith the Reds’ reach with a number of English lower league clubs also interested in Hayes. The winger spent five successful seasons at Pittodrie and won the League Cup in 2014.
Aberdeen also enquired about a loan move for Celtic winger Lewis Morgan. Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers let the Scotland international have the final say in his loan destination and Morgan looks set to sign for Sunderland. Morgan worked with Sunderland boss Jack Ross at St Mirren.