Some corners of the media tenuously linked Man United with a £50m move for John McGinn this summer summer.
For many outside Aston Villa and Scottish football, this was more conclusive evidence that our beloved game was indeed well and truly ‘gone’.
But Villa fans found it laughable for very different reasons.
For some McGinn indisputably represents the club’s best signing of the last decade, the man who returned them to the promised land with the winning goal in the Play-Off Final last May.
£50m for them was insulting. Try doubling that.
The last few years has been a heck of a ride for the 24-year-old and he hasn’t had a hard time adjusting to fame.
In 2015/16 he was part of the Hibernian side who won the Scottish Cup, their first triumph in the competition for 114 years.
His place in Hibs folklore was further enshrined after not only helping them return to the Scottish Premiership, but for also snubbing interest from Celtic when most of his countrymen succumb to the temptation.
McGinn’s ‘big’ move inevitably came, but it was across the border rather than via the well trodden path to Celtic Park.
Sir Alex Ferguson supposedly suggested United made their move there and then, but Villa it was; a fallen giant desperately yearning for their return to the big time.
And his debut season really couldn’t have unfolded any better.
In nine months ‘Super John’ scored the goal that sealed promotion, won both the club and supporters’ Player of the Year awards and bagged the Goal of the Season with this utterly jaw-dropping strike.
If he’d retired after that effort, nobody could have blamed him.
McGinn’s exploits in that one season probably justify the £50m price tag alone.
But he hasn’t rested on his laurels, outshining Jack Grealish in the Premier League so far.
He has scored at Tottenham and at Arsenal, albeit both times in defeat.
No Villa player has more goals, while he’s also registered more shots, tackles and dribbles than any of his team-mates.
His all-action, slightly hunchbacked low centre-of-gravity style is unorthodox but arguably what makes him so likeable.
He and Grealish – true Scottish grit versus 99% Brylcreem and tiny socks – are chalk and cheese but make for a formidable midfield duo.
In many ways McGinn is a throwback to the days when central midfielders really were here, there and everywhere.
Dean Smith has unsurprisingly installed him as the centrepiece of his side and the man most likely to ensure they bypass relegation this season.
The Villa boss labelled McGinn’s display in the 2-2 draw against Burnley last weekend, which featured a goal and one chalked off by VAR, ‘outstanding’ and believes his excellence is now making him a target.
“He’s a target now,” Smith said. “It was almost tag team on him. They wanted to stop our rhythm.”
Despite McGinn’s antics they find themselves 18th and very much involved in the scrap for survival.
Smith knows he needs more inspiration from elsewhere, but in ‘McGinniesta’ Villa at least boast a superhero capable of bailing them out of trouble.
No wonder Fergie is such an avid fan.
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