BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
CELTIC could miss out on the signing of John McGinn unless they shell out close to £4m – as suitors from south of the border circle for the Scotland internationalist.
The Easter Road outfit knocked back a second bid from the Hoops of £1.75m on Wednesday evening, a relatively small increase from their opening gambit of £1.5m which was submitted last Monday.
That is understood to be substantially below where Hibs value their prize asset, who see the sale of Scott Brown as a relevant benchmark in negotiations.
Brown joined Celtic in a £4.51m switch in the summer of 2007 with 134 first-team appearances under his belt. McGinn, by comparison, has represented the Hibees 132 times and has played for his country 10 times.
Hibs are also conscious that 33 per cent of any transfer fee will go to the midfielder’s former club, St Mirren, as part of his £160,000 move from the Buddies three years ago.
Reports on Thursday suggested that the Glasgow giants would be willing to play the waiting game and secure McGinn on a pre-contract in January, with his current deal set to expire next summer, however Hibs have already fielded enquiries from sides in the English Premier League who are poised to make their move if Celtic do not.
It is believed Hibs have no desire to stand in the player’s way but, in the unlikely event that no club meet their asking price, are even willing to retain McGinn for the remainder of the campaign and allow him to leave on a free rather than be short-changed this summer.
McGinn was a notable absentee as Hibs kicked off their Europa League campaign against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands last night, however that was attributed to a thigh strain, and the Hibs management team have no fears that he will agitate for a move.
His omission did not prove costly for the Hibees, who battered the part-timers 6-1 at Easter Road, inspired by a devastating hat-trick by Florian Kamberi on his maiden outing since joining permanently from Grasshopper Zurich.
The 23-year-old became the first man to notch a treble in Europe for the Hibees since Alan Gordon in 1973, while debutant Stevie Mallan bagged a brace and Oli Shaw added gloss to the scoreline.
Einar Trondargjogv, who gave away the penalty for Kamberi’s opener, was sent off for scything down the excellent Martin Boyle in the first-half as NSI lost their cool in the capital.
Petur Knudsen did grab a consolation, however the tie is effectively over heading into next week’s second leg in Toftir – and Hibs can now begin planning for what will be a tougher examination against Greek side Asteras Tripolis in the second qualifying round.