It’s been a traumatic fortnight for Aston Villa.
Playoff final heartache has been followed by severe financial worries. But now that the club have confirmed that an agreement has been reached with HMRC, stabilising the club, Steve Bruce has started planning for next season.
It would be easy to stand a beleaguered figure after the last few weeks but Bruce is upbeat and confident that he can guide Villa through adversity and back to the Premier League next season.
Given they will almost certainly lose their prized asset Jack Grealish, with £30 million being the reported figure that they’re looking for, it is fundamental that the Midlands club look to strengthen their squad over the summer months.
However, having tried the expensive route back to the Premier League, Villa will now need to be more savvy in the transfer market if they are to mount a challenge.
If the Grealish money can help them hang on to Keinan Davis and Andre Green, Villa have a talented crop of youngsters to build on.
With their starting XI for the playoff final possessing an average age of 29.6, this is a Villa side in desperate need of a refresh. On a tight budget this isn’t easy, but in John McGinn, they’ve been linked with just the right man.
There is a snobbery over signing players from Scotland’s top flight with many of the Premiership players sneered upon by fans south of the border. But there are gems to be found.
Which Villa fan wouldn’t like to have a player like Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama or Andy Robertson?
Look further down the league and Barry Bannan has been a star player for Sheffield Wednesday over the last few years. Scottish pundits are in unanimous agreement that McGinn is already a better player than Bannan.
If a player with the right ingredients is identified from the Scottish Premiership, they will only improve after getting better coaching.
Andy Robertson is a prime example of this: first under Villa manager Bruce at Hull, then at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp.
Coming from Dundee United in Scotland, Robertson cost Hull just £3 million, not a lot less than the £5 million that Hibernian are initially demanding. In fact, with the player out of contract next summer, the fee could be less than that.
It seems a shame that Neil Lennon’s fabulous Hibs side will be broken up this summer. With John McGinn likely to leave, as well as Dylan McGeouch being out of contract and Scott Allan returning to parent club Celtic, it’s not looking like a promising break for Hibernian fans.
But their loss can be Villa’s gain.
What’s he good at?
John McGinn is a classic number eight. Hibernians’ midfield has been so balanced with McGeouch doing the dirty work, Allan providing the craft and McGinn offering a bit of both.
He has previously been linked to Celtic as a successor to Scott Brown but, in reality, they are very different players.
The 23-year-old has the energy to get around the pitch which could offer Villa some much needed dynamism. He’s not afraid to put a foot in but also has a lovely left foot, coupled with natural vision that makes him such a good player for Hibs. He’s an all-action central midfield player.
Given that Scott Allan is the most attacking of the trio, McGinn’s tally of five goals and six assists is a fairly useful return.
Playing alongside better players and with better facilities and coaching could enhance McGinn’s game further, and he has stated his ambition to test himself at the highest level, a level that Steve Bruce could convince him he could be part of reaching with Aston Villa.
As well as winning the League Cup with St Mirren and the Scottish Cup with Hibs, John McGinn was part of the Hibernian side that finally won promotion back to the top flight at the third attempt- a feat Steve Bruce will be hoping his signature can help emulate with Aston Villa.
Listen to the RealSport football writers discuss the potential winners of the World Cup in Kremlins in the Basement: RealSport’s daily World Cup podcast.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?