Former Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson understands current skipper Graeme Shinnie’s decision to leave for Derby County.
It was confirmed the 27-year-old will exit Pittodrie when his deal expires in the summer and he has agreed a three-year contract with Frank Lampard’s Rams.
League Cup-winner Anderson, who had two spells with the Dons as skipper, punctuated by a spell in England – which included two years at Derby – says the Pride Park outfit’s potential promotion to the Premier League and Shinnie’s age will have made the offer too good to turn down.
He said: “I’m not overly surprised from what we’ve heard and seeing bits and pieces in the press.
“As much as there’ll be a lot of people disappointed he’s leaving – he’s been a big player for the team over the last few years – I think most fair-minded people will recognise he’s going to a club that’s still in with a chance of being promoted to the Premier League.
“When you put it that way, it is understandable at his age.
“He’s come from Inverness and done so well at Aberdeen.
“It’s a sign of his success how keen the club were to keep him, but likewise it’s why Derby have come in for him.
“It’s the nature of football these days and the pecking order of where we find ourselves in Scotland.”
Ex-centre-back Anderson – who joined Derby after leaving Sunderland in 2010 – thinks Shinnie will be desperate to see his new team-mates seal top-flight football for next season.
He said: “It is a big club. When you look at the size of the support they get – when I was there they were mid-table Championship and they were still getting 24,000.
“When it came to the likes of the big games, when they played Newcastle or Nottingham Forrest, it was a really good atmosphere, sold out.
“The facilities are good, they’ve obviously spent a lot of money – even since I was there – on the training ground.
“I suppose they’re in the group with a lot of other clubs, where they see themselves as potential Premier League and it’s just in the last few seasons they’ve been close.
“It’s not easy to make that jump, but I’m sure Graeme will be hoping they’re successful through the play-offs.”
Anderson sees similarities between Rams boss Frank Lampard and Reds gaffer Derek McInnes in how they sell their clubs to prospective signings and thinks the chance to play under legendary Chelsea midfielder Lampard will have helped make up Shinnie’s mind.
He had been offered a new Pittodrie deal which would have made him Aberdeen’s highest paid player, although the Dons cannot compete with the English Championship clubs in that regard.
Anderson said: “You’d think that’s been part of the attraction (to play under Frank Lampard). I’m sure that was part of the attraction which enticed him to come to Aberdeen, because I know how well Derek McInnes sells Aberdeen to players.
“It would be attractive if Frank Lampard has offered you a contract to manage you, especially playing in midfield, although he was a different type of player.
“You can’t help but be impressed.”
What will Derby get in Shinnie, which will improve their squad?
Anderson says the midfielder’s energy in the heart of midfield is infectious.
He said: “The way Graeme plays, he’s got a real energy and enthusiasm. It’s infectious and rubs off on other players around him.
“He’s a good role model.
“He’ll fit in with the players they’ve got down there well having watched them this season with his ability to get round the pitch. He’s fit.
“They’re getting a good players there and they’ve offered him a contract believing he can add something to the squad.”
Anderson thinks Shinnie – who joined on a similar pre-contract agreement from Inverness Caley in summer 2015, before being made captain when Ryan Jack decided to leave for Rangers two years later – will still leave McInnes’ Dons with a sense of frustration his time at Pittodrie didn’t see him lift silverware.
Aberdonian Shinnie helped the Reds finish second in the Premiership three times and also played in three Hampden cup finals.
Anderson said: “Any time they’ve been to a final or semi-final, you always hope there’s a chance and I’m sure he’ll be no different.
“They were very close on a couple of occasions. There will be a feeling of frustration and disappointment – he will have been desperate to win something while he was here.
“That’s what you come to a club like Aberdeen to do.
“Overall, his record on the pitch has been good.”
Anderson thinks McInnes and his staff, who have had time to formulate their plan B during the protracted saga over Shinnie’s future, will look to replace him with talent which can be nurtured at Pittodrie.
He said: “This won’t surprise them. They’ll be disappointed to lose their captain, but will have been busy behind the scenes to replace him, just in case this was the outcome.
“How they go about doing that is another question.
“He’s developed and evolved as a player since he’s been at Aberdeen.
“It might be a case of going for someone along the same lines, who has caught the eye of the manager, but will develop as well, like Kenny McLean, Graeme Shinnie, Jonny Hayes.
“They identify can become better players and they turn into assets for the club.”