Dons boss Derek McInnes today refused to rule out a future move for NAC Breda defender Greg Leigh.
The left-back has returned to his parent club in the Dutch second tier after a season-long loan expired.
McInnes had hoped to secure Leigh on a permanent deal this summer.
However, hopes of signing Leigh were killed off by the club’s projected £9 million loss due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
McInnes said it is difficult for the club to offer any player a contract at the moment, although a report this morning said former winger Jonny Hayes, who has left Celtic, could be set to return to the north-east:
Leigh had been sidelined with a fractured tibia since December, but McInnes reckons he already proved he could be a key Dons player.
He said: “I enjoyed working with Greg and in an ideal situation we would have liked to continue that work with him.
“I wouldn’t rule it out totally in the future, but at the minute we have to respect where we are as a club.
“I talked with Greg and he understands where every club is at the minute, including our own.
“Greg was a key player for us, but he is no longer our player.
“Unfortunately we are not in a position to make any player a contract offer at the minute.
“That may or may not change in the coming months.”
On securing Leigh last summer the Reds had a clause inserted into his loan of first option to sign him permanently.
A fee was also agreed in principle for the 25-year-old.
NAC Breda have confirmed their squad for 2020-21 will be reduced amid major budget cuts due to the financial fall-out of the pandemic.
The top two Dutch leagues were abandoned in April with no champions, promotion or relegation.
NAC Breda need to cut costs and have admitted they will look to move on previously-loaned players like Leigh.
NAC Breda technical manager Tom Van Den Abbeele said: “There is no more budget for 18 players, so we will work with a smaller core.
“Greg Leigh and Anouar Kali (on loan at Virton) are employed by NAC and will return to us.
“We will then talk to those two boys. Either they put their best foot forward or they are loaned or even sold.”
For McInnes, the financial hit of coronavirus has ensured a second successive summer of frustration in attempts to secure a left-back who has impressed on loan.
Last summer he had hoped to secure Derby County’s Max Lowe on an extended deal if given any encouragement by the Rams.
Lowe had impressed on a season-long loan in 2018-19 and picked up Aberdeen’s Players’ Player of the Year award.
Full-back Lowe also admitted he was open to extending his stay at Aberdeen.
However, Championship side Derby opted to keep him at Pride Park last season and he made 27 appearances.
McInnes quickly moved his sights to Leigh who also made an impressive impact before suffering a fractured tibia in a 1-0 defeat of Hamilton on December 14.
It was to be Leigh’s last appearance for Aberdeen.
He was on course to return to action from the injury in late March and the Dons were set to step up contract talks with the full-back.
However, his comeback and potential deal were scuppered by football going into shutdown on March 13.
McInnes said: “It was unfortunate that Greg broke his leg.
“The last couple of seasons I feel we have brought two good left-backs to the club.
“Max Lowe was outstanding for us and we wanted something similar.
“We brought in Greg and I think he definitely showed enough in his performances for us that he could be a very good player for Aberdeen. He brought a good level of performance.
“However, just as it was last season, we weren’t just picking up injuries that would keep boys out for two to three weeks.
“He was one of a number of boys who had a significant injury.
“Unfortunately it kept him out for four months and we never got to see him again in an Aberdeen shirt.”