I was pleasantly surprised to see us linked to signing John McGinn at the weekend. The Hibernian playmaker would certainly fit the mould that Garry Monk is looking for.
It looks as though we will start the season with a 4-4-2 system. Considering how the manager persisted with it throughout the last two months of the campaign, there is a very little evidence to suggest he will change going forward.
With that being the case, the other area of concern will be improving on the number of goals we scored last season. That means finding a playmaker who has the vision to create more chances.
Usually, that means finding a no.10 to play in behind the lone striker. However, if we do stick with two up front, that creativity has to come from deeper in midfield. That’s where McGinn would offer a great fit.
He’s a combative player. 18 yellow cards in 43 appearances is a testament to a man who doesn’t like to be pushed around (or perhaps can’t tackle that well!). That side of his game is complimented though with his attacking talents.
Six goals and eight assists last season from a central midfield role are the type of stats we would be looking for to improve our attacking play. As he plays further back, getting someone with assists in double figures is unlikely, but he is a midfield all-rounder.
Of course, there are a couple of downsides. Transferring his form from the Scottish league to the English Championship isn’t always straightforward. As we have seen with both Andrew Shinnie and Greg Stewart, it doesn’t always go to plan.
On top of that, you have to consider the price. One of our rivals to his signature, Derby, are reportedly prepared to pay £3m while the Scottish media say McGinn has a price tag of £5m.
There is a case to be made that that sort of money could be spent on someone like Marcus Maddison of Peterborough, who scored 12 and assisted 23 for the League One club last season, but he doesn’t play in central midfield. He plays further forward or on the wing. We need someone ideally who is comfortable playing further back.
For a player untested in English football, signing McGinn would be a risk, but I think it’s a risk worth taking. His skillset (combative/creative) seems ideal for the Championship, and if Garry Monk is after the Scottish international, I am very pleased that we are making a move for him.