Boss Stephen Glass insists rejecting a £500,000 bid for wanted man Ryan Hedges was a show of strength by Aberdeen.
The Dons kicked out the offer from a Championship club and have tabled a new contract offer that would make attacker Hedges one of the Reds’ top earners.
Hedges in the final season of his Pittodrie contract and Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers have previously expressed an interest in the Welsh international.
Glass views Hedges as key to his long-term bid for success and hopes the 26-year-old will commit his future to the Dons.
However, if Hedges does opt to move on, Glass insists it was vital the Reds send out a message no player will exit on the cheap.
The days of Pittodrie being a bargain basement store for English clubs are long gone.
Hedges is set to start in the Uefa Europa Conference League clash against Breidablik at Pittodrie as the Dons bid to reach the play-off round.
For now the focus of Hedges, and the Dons, is on seeing off the Icelanders, with the Dons holding a 3-2 advantage.
On Hedges’ contract offer, Glass said: “Gunner (Steven Gunn, Director of Football) and Dave (Cormack, Chairman) will deal with that.
“It is something we would like to do, but we are so focused on getting results and Ryan is too at the minute.
“It is important that focus continues.
“We want to keep our best players – that’s how it is.
“Our players will be in demand, I think.
“It is our job to make them attractive to other clubs.
“If clubs come and put money on the table, it is important that you show a little bit of strength.
“It’s a reality that they are not going to leave cheap – but hopefully they will choose to stay.”
Asked if there had been any further bids for Hedges since the £500,000 approach was kicked out, Glass said: “Not that I’m aware of.”
Reds play hard ball with English clubs
Aberdeen rejected a bid less than £2m in May from Premier League new-boys Watford for Lewis Ferguson.
Scotland U21 international Ferguson is contracted until summer 2024. Following the rejection of Watford’s bid, which Aberdeen slated as ‘insulting’, Ferguson handed in a transfer request.
Ferguson missed the 2-1 defeat of Livingston on Sunday due to injury, but is set to be available for the third qualifying round second leg against Breidablik.
Glass won’t be drawn into war of words
Should Aberdeen see off the Icelanders, they will face either Cypriot side AEL Limassol or Azerbaijan’s Qarabag for the right to play in the lucrative group stages.
Following the first leg tie in Reykjavík, Breidablik manager Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson was critical of Aberdeen, insisting they ‘did not come to play football‘.
Thorvaldsson was adamant his side would progress.
Glass refuses to be drawn into a war of words.
He said: “I don’t know what his angle is.
“There aren’t many managers who come out and criticise the other teams.
“It is interesting he did that, but it is his prerogative.
“Our response is to look after our own business – and not acknowledge the fact that it doesn’t bother us at all.
“People might try to say things to rile you, to annoy you, to get you into a war of words.
“But we’re Aberdeen. And we think we’ve got a great chance to go and make progress in this tournament.
“That’s the aim – whether their manager thinks we’re the best team on the planet or the worst team on the planet. It doesn’t affect us.”
Weaknesses that can be exploited
Glass expects Pittodrie to be rocking for the Europa Conference League tie with the stadium back to normal operating capacity for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March last year.
Aberdeen were 2-0 up inside 11 minutes in Iceland and looked set to coast through until Breidablik hit back to level at the break.
Glass admits the Dons were ‘lax’ at two goals up and warned there can be no repeat in the return tie.
He said: “I don’t think I learned anything about them that I didn’t already know.
“We felt we knew how they would play and we were right.
“They are a very good footballing side and positive.
“As with any team there were weaknesses we could exploit.
“I think we were a little bit lax after we went 2-0 up and it is important we look after ourselves in the second leg and we have the players to do it.”
A draw is enough to progress but Glass will go for a win
A draw would be enough for Aberdeen to progress to the play-offs and edge a step closer to group stage qualification for the first time since the UEFA Cup in the 2007-08 season.
Glass insists his attacking philosophy will not be diluted and he is going for a victory.
He said: “We have already shown we are not a team who will try to nick the game.
“A win or a draw puts us through.
“However, we go out to win the game.
“If we perform the way we can, it should be enough to get through. If we don’t, we could find ourselves in trouble.”
Red Army can expect vibrant team
Glass expects the raucous European atmosphere to return to Pittodrie for the visit of the Icelanders with tickets sales surpassing the 12,500 mark and the Red Shed sold out.
He said: “The backing of the fans has been unbelievable and I see ticket numbers are climbing.
“It’s been 5,000 or 6,000 and it feels full. Already 13,000 have gone so I’d imagine, as it ramps up and people decide during the day there’s a game on, there will be a big number there.
“We’re going to have a good number of fans expecting to see a vibrant Aberdeen team – and that’s what they’ll see
“It’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“One of the reasons I came back was to be involved in front of big crowds especially in European nights
“It’s important that we keep them on board by winning games and producing performances.”