Derek McInnes has expressed surprise that Celtic failed to sign Alistair McCann during the summer transfer window.
Midfielder McCann made 31 Scottish Premiership appearances for St Johnstone last season and also helped them win the Scottish Cup.
He was the joint-most frequent tackler in the top-flight, averaging 2.7 per 90 minutes to put him alongside Kilmarnock’s Gary Dicker and Hamilton’s Scott Martin at the top of the rankings (via WhoScored).
McCann’s performances earned him a nomination for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, though he was edged out by David Turnbull.
He remained at St Johnstone until the very last day of the transfer window, when he was snapped up by Championship side Preston North End for an undisclosed fee (via BBC Sport).
Writing for the Mail on Sunday, McInnes did identify some flaws in McCann’s game but said he still ticks several important boxes.
He seemed to be under the impression that Celtic or arch-rivals Rangers would be the 21-year-old’s next destination.
“McCann lacks a bit of finesse and quality with his final pass and he could probably score more goals, but he has everything else,” he said, as quoted by the Glasgow Times.
“He is a responsible midfielder, a real competitor who knows his job and is good on the ball. I have played and managed in the English Championship and he will deal with that fine.”
He later added: “McCann would have been an easy one for Celtic or Rangers to take.”
Celtic recruiting the top talents from further down the Premiership may seem like the natural order of things, and they did identify him as an option.
But for whatever reason, perhaps because of the concerns about end-product which McInnes flagged up, they chose not to pursue the deal.
If McCann takes seamlessly to the Championship, then perhaps they will rue their decision, but Dominic McKay and Ange Postecoglou brought a whopping 11 new faces to Parkhead this summer so this certainly seems like one they decided against with good alternatives in mind.
In other news, Danny Mills issues his verdict on this outgoing.
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