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BACK PAGE BULLETIN: EX-CELTIC TARGET LAUGHS OFF LINK, DONS SKIPPER HAILS McKENNA, KILLIE IN TRANSFER STORM

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FORMER Celtic target John McGinn admitted he laughed off sensational big-money links to Manchester United in the summer.

The Scotland midfielder, who had been on the Hoops radar until he left Hibs for Aston Villa in a £2.75million deal last summer, was heading for Old Trafford, according to some reports.

Apparently, United legend Sir Alex Ferguson was championing the cause of McGinn, but he was happy to agree a five-year extension with the Midlands club during the week to end the speculation.

The middle-of-the park enforcer McGinn will line up against Spurs in Villa’s evening Premier League kick-off in London and he is eager to get into the thick of the action.

McGinn, speaking to Sky Sports News, spoke of the United tales and admitted: “I had a little chuckle at it, to be honest. I’m sure a lot of people did.

“It is up to me to go and prove it is justified. At that point, my whole mindset was on Villa and being successful here.

“I have still got so much left to learn and prove.

“In the environment here I am appreciated. I’m loved and respected by everyone – there is no better feeling. I still have to pinch myself driving in.

“I feel like one of the main players here, but I still need to improve and get better.

“To have any speculation lingering about isn’t what you want. I’m just glad to be settled and to focus on the next five years.”

Steve Bruce lured McGinn to the Midlands when it looked certain he would join boyhood heroes Celtic. However, Brendan Rodgers could give no guarantees of a regular first-team place while the Villa gaffer insisted he would be building his midfield around the Scot.

The ex-St Mirren and Easter Road star was cut adrift when Bruce was sacked, but his successor, Dean Smith, has kept faith in McGinn who was crucial in the team’s play-off success to reach the top flight.

JOE LEWIS has hailed Aberdeen team-mate Scott McKenna as one of the best defenders he has played with and backed him to get a big-money move.

The Dons centre-back slapped in a transfer request during the week with transfer speculation linking him to £3million moves from Championship sides Sheffiele dWednesday, Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest. The Pittodrie side rejected all the offers as they did not match their valuation of the 22-year-old Scotland international.

McKenna had to push the notion of a switch across the border to concentrate on the club’s Europa qualifier against Rijeka in Croatia and the defender put in an assured display, despite the team’s 2-0 setback.

Goalkeeper Lewis, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “You would never have known with the way Scott played. His attitude is one of his main positives.

“Things don’t affect him and I think you could see that with his performance in Rijeka – he can be proud of the way he played.

“I am amazed there hasn’t been a lot more interest in Scott. For me, as a defender, he is one of the best I have played with. There is no doubt there will be loads of interest in Scott going forward.”

FLORIANZO VANZO has slammed Kilmarnock after the collapse of his proposed move to the Rugby Park.

The former Belgium Under-21 international forward angrily accused the Ayrshire outfit of performing a u-turn on their original contract offer.

The 25-year-old underwent a medical earlier this week and looked all set to clinch a move from Waasland-Beveren.

But the move never materialised and Vanzo, speaking in The Sun, said: “I passed my medical without the slightest problem, but the deal then broke down during the negotiations.

“Kilmarnock’s salary offer was nothing like the one they had proposed beforehand.

“For good measure, they were just offering me a one-year contract with the option for a second season.

“I turned their offer down. It didn’t resemble the one they had spoken to me about in any respect.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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