HIBERNIAN sporting director Graeme Mathie insists John McGinn in the benchmark as the capital club attempt to create a conveyor belt of talent.
Mathie is adamant McGinn’s progress is a credit to every department at Easter Road, as well as the 25-year-old’s own tireless work ethic and determination.
The combative midfielder joined the Hibees from St Mirren in the summer of 2015 and went on to become one of their finest signings of the modern era, helping them end their 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup and winning the Championship title.
He completed a £4 million switch to Aston Villa in June 2018 but, courtesy of a sell-on percentage included in that deal, he is likely to make Hibs another small fortune in the future after being linked with Manchester United and Newcastle United this term.
And Mathie says that is a success story they are determined to replicate.
Mathie said: “John’s is a story about how the whole club worked together to allow him to have the career he has. John would be the first to say that.
“His attitude and desire to improve was critical to it, but the sports science and medical department came together to make him fitter, stronger and quicker.
“The analysis department helped him improve tactically. His progress encapsulates a huge number of people, not just the scouting department.
“You can talk about a club’s recruitment strategy and that’s what we want to do more of. We would love to use John as an example of coming to Hibs and progressing.
“We still speak about Jamie Maclaren coming on loan and then getting into the [Australia] World Cup squad because of his goals, we speak about Marc McNulty getting a Scotland cap despite only being here for a short time on loan. Martin Boyle is another example.
“We want to do that more often and therein lies the challenge – once you get a player to a certain point and they move on, hopefully in a good financial deal for the club, the task is to reinvest that money wisely.”
Mathie also revealed that McGinn’s capture was a classic example of speculating to accumulate – because Hibs didn’t have the money in the budget to pay the £150,000 compensation fee to St Mirren for his services.
Mathie continued: “We presented a whole load of players in different positions, of different types to Alan Stubbs at the time and he was adamant that John was the guy he wanted.
“The board allowed us to spend a compensation fee when we didn’t really have it in the budget to do it.”
Speaking to the What’s InMotion podcast, Mathie also opened up on why Hibs flop Josh Vela failed to shine in Edinburgh.
The 26-year-old was one of Paul Heckingbottom’s captures last summer and, despite arriving from Bolton with a fine reputation, he struggled to adapt to life in Scotland and made just 14 appearances before returning to England to join Shrewsbury in January.
And Mathie continued: “You are talking about human beings. We looked at Josh Vela over the summer, who played a number of games in the English Championship – a really highly-regarded young player and a good guy and character.
“But he came to Scotland and just didn’t settle. There were so many things going on with his life and family in the north of England, and his performances on the pitch were not of a level that he, or Hibs, wanted.
“I don’t look at that and think ‘there was a mistake in the recruitment process’, but it was that ability to come away from a club he has been at for a long time, and an area he has been for his whole life, and move. It was difficult for him.”