Hibs boss Neil Lennon admits John McGinn needs to prepare himself for the possibility that he will not move to Celtic this summer – and has backed the Easter Road board for refusing to cave in over the transfer saga.
The Leith club have turned down a third bid – reportedly £2 million – from the Hoops and are thought to be holding out for £4 million for the Scotland midfielder.
McGinn, who has a year remaining on his current deal, is set to play his second competitive game of the season when Hibs entertain Greek outfit Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League this evening.
And even though the transfer window in Scotland still has over a month to run, former Celtic captain and manager Lennon insists McGinn needs to consider that Celtic might not be willing to pay the asking price.
Lennon said: “Listen, the deal might never happen – he has to get his head around that as well so we try to prepare him for all eventualities the best we can.
“John is quite satisfied at the minute, I’ve had chats with him to see how he is because there will be people talking to him: the agent, family giving him all titbits of advice.
“I have been in that situation so I know how difficult it can be getting messages from here, there and everywhere. Ideally, it is good for him to come in train and play.
“He is training well, he’ll play and until that situations changes he is a Hibs player.
“It’s a really difficult situation for him, at the end of the day John is a human being; he has feelings and emotions and it almost feels as if he is a bit exposed. We are trying to manage him the best we can.”
The Hibs board are thought to have taken into account the £4.5 million they received from Celtic for Scott Brown in 2007 in placing a value on McGinn.
And with 33 per cent of any transfer fee set to go to McGinn’s former club St Mirren, Lennon insists he is more than happy by how the club directors are conducting themselves.
Lennon, whose side will face either Norwegian side Molde or Laci of Albania if they overcome Tripolis in the second qualifying round, added: “The club have been really strong and I totally back that. We have our valuation, he is our top player and no club yet has met that valuation that satisfies the club.
“I don’t get involved with the money side of things thankfully. I work for the club, the board, Leeann (Dempster, chief executive).
“I leave that to people smarter than me but I think the club have made their position pretty clear to Celtic what the club value the player at and that valuation has not been met.
“They run the club and to be fair to them they have run it pretty well recently. They have taken a really strong position on this and they are right to do that.”