ABERDEEN manager Derek McInnes has suffered a double blow as he sets about re-building his attacking options for next season following the departure of both Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn.
McGinn had come to the end of his contract and fancies a crack at the English Championship, where he had several opportunities, and his fellow Irishman Hayes this week concluded a £1.3million transfer to Scottish Champions Celtic.
McInnes was able to negotiate a second loan deal with Celtic for Aberdeen’s Young Player of the Year Ryan Christie. The midfielder made a real impact at Pittodrie in his six months loan deal in the second half of last season and will be back at Aberdeen for the whole of the new season.
McInnes, who last week knocked back the opportunity to manage Sunderland to remain at Aberdeen, was keen bring Liam Boyce to Pittodrie.
Last season’s leading scorer in the Scottish Premiership with 23 goals, had a £500k release clause in his contract and it was thought that Aberdeen and Hibs would fight it out for his signature.
Both Scottish sides had just completed transfer sales of the star players, Hayes moving to Celtic from Aberdeen and Hibs selling Jason Cummings to Nottingham Forest.
However it was Burton Albion who paid a club record transfer fee to sign the 26 year old striker from the Dingwall side.
The Northern Ireland international, who recently scored for his country in a friendly against New Zealand, has joined the Brewers on a three-year deal.
Burton signed the former Celtic midfielder Jackson Irvine last summer and the big Aussie has been a huge success at the Brewers. Nigel Clough was happy to head to the Highlands for another recruit and is delighted to have nipped in ahead of McInnes and Neil Lennon at Hibs to sign Boyce.
“He’s a good player who can get goals,” Clough stated.
“He was the top scorer in Scotland which, when you consider the incredible season Celtic had, that’s some going in itself. He’s another late developer and Ross County is proving a good breeding ground for players after him and Jackson Irvine.
“Liam has done very well there for a couple of seasons and he’s a full Northern Ireland international.
“Some people say he’s not easy on the eye at times but he’s a good all-round player. He’s not blessed with pace but holds the ball up well and gets in the box.
“If you think of all the chances we created last season then, hopefully, if we can do the same again he can get on the end of them.
“He’s the right kind of character and he is desperate to come down and prove himself in England.”
Boyce admitted that he was buzzing to get his move.
“I’m absolutely buzzing to finally get it done. There’s been a lot of speculation so now I’m just happy to be here.
“I kept in touch with Jackson after he came down here. He has done well and it has been a good platform for him to come and play his football. He’s been brilliant the past season and I just hope to come in and do the same,” he said.
“I want to go to the next level and, no disrespect to Scotland, but the English Championship is a step up in quality and I wanted to come and test myself.”
McInnes was also widely rumoured to be keen on bringing the former Scotland international Shaun Maloney to Aberdeen. The former Celtic man was a free agent having completed his contract at Hull but he has now accepted a new one year contract at Hull to help stabilize the club and try to bounce straight back up to the Premier League.
McInnes will now anxiously wait for news from ex-Celtic midfielder Kris Commons who is intent on remaining in Scotland now that his time at Celtic has come to an end. Commons stated that he’d consider his options while on holiday and if he decides to continue playing Aberdeen and Hibs are his two most likely options.