- John McGinn has said only a special offer will make him leave Hibs this summer
- Midfielder McGinn has been central to Hibs' rise from the Championship
- While he is often viewed as a potential successor to Brown for country, and perhaps even club, McGinn sees a clear contrast with the Parkhead captain
By Mark Wilson For The Scottish Daily Mail
Published: 19:34 EDT, 23 April 2018 | Updated: 19:34 EDT, 23 April 2018
For John McGinn, one look around an Easter Road scene enveloped in celebration was enough to confirm what he already knew. It will take a 'special' offer for him to leave Hibernian this summer.
The Scotland midfielder made another hugely impressive contribution on Saturday as Neil Lennon's side derailed Celtic's hopes of a title party with a 2-1 win. In front of a crowd of almost 20,000, it was the biggest result yet in a season that could well see Hibs finish as Premiership runners-up. Their upward trajectory under Lennon is as obvious as it is exciting.
McGinn has been central to that rise from the Championship, yet is now approaching the final 12 months of his contract. A career crossroads may well be beckoning for the 23-year-old.
John McGinn has said only a special offer will make him leave Hibs this summer
Previously the subject of interest from Nottingham Forest and Ipswich Town, McGinn has never hidden a long-term wish to take his talents into a more exacting environment.
That does not, however, mean he is in any rush to exit his current place of work. Now in his third season with Hibs, McGinn's happiness is being reflected in his performances.
'The speculation is something that's always been there since my first season here,' said McGinn, when asked about his future.
'I've always said the same thing - I'm learning, I'm getting better and I'm loving playing in front of sell-out crowds. I feel as if I'm getting better all the time.
'At the same time, though, I'm ambitious. I want to go and test myself at a higher level.
'However, it would have to be something better than Hibs. I don't take it for granted being here. I love it. I'm sure the rest of the boys are the same. I've got a year left of my contract and it would have to be something special for me to leave.' Clearly, there will be financial pressures at work. The thought of losing their prized asset for nothing a year down the line could cause palpitations within the Easter Road boardroom.
Unless McGinn signs an extension, offers for his services will have to be carefully considered
Unless McGinn is willing to sign a contract extension, offers for his services will have to be carefully considered.
Lennon has already claimed £5million would be a suitable price tag and stressed that McGinn should only leave for a club where he will be guaranteed first-team football.
'I've never changed the fact, or not respected, how good I've got it here,' added McGinn.
'I love playing with the boys here and before such supporters. I think the fans know that.
'I've never hidden the fact I'm ambitious at some point. But that doesn't need to be now. Everyone, all parties, will know when the time's right. It's up to myself to keep playing away and keep focusing on what I'm doing.' A home meeting with Kilmarnock is next up for Hibs this weekend as they seek to close a three-point gap to Rangers and Aberdeen.
McGinn doesn't underestimate the task, but much seems possible after inflicting Celtic's third Premiership defeat of the season.
'We knew how important it was going into that game,' reflected McGinn. 'People were all tipping us for second place but you look at it and if we didn't take three points against Celtic, it was going to be a tall order.
'We know it still is, it's going to be a tough ask, but the way we played in front of a great crowd... these are the games you want to play in. I think we really thrive on that.
'This is a club that should be getting crowds like that, watching players who are looking to express themselves and enjoy it. That's what they've got here.
'It's probably the loudest I've heard, with the exception of derbies. We could see the appreciation the fans were giving us, they were enjoying what they were watching. That adds an extra two, three per cent to your game. The fans are loving it, the players are loving it and hopefully we can continue.'
Confronting Celtic also brought McGinn back into opposition with Scott Brown. While he is often viewed as a potential successor to Brown for country, and perhaps even club, McGinn sees a clear contrast with the Parkhead captain.
McGinn is seen as Scotland's successor to Scott Brown, but he sees a clear contrast
'It's something that bugs me a wee bit, getting compared to Broony,' admitted McGinn. 'I feel as if we're different.
'We're good pals off the park and we're different players. I just try to focus on my own game. I wasn't directly against him, I was trying to stop (Olivier) Ntcham and (Tom) Rogic playing.
'Thankfully, as a three in there, we managed to do that.
'Obviously we are both hungry footballers. We work hard, we try to get in people's faces, but people forget we can both play, as well.
'It's nice to be compared to someone who has had such an illustrious career but at the same time I want to make my own name and put my stamp on things.' Even if they fall short in the pursuit of second place, a new standard of performance has been implemented by Lennon during a highly successful return to the Premiership.
'I think everyone's raised the bar - although, of course, the manager has been a huge part in that,' added McGinn. 'But so was Alan Stubbs before him.
'He changed the dimension of the club, made it a lot more professional and the gaffer here has carried it on. You can see the real progression.' PFA Scotland will announce their Manager of the Year at a gala dinner on Sunday evening, with McGinn feeling Lennon is worthy of recognition from his peers.
'He's a certain contender for it,' added the midfielder. 'I think with our budget, we're probably about fourth or fifth.
'So if we finish higher than that, then I don't see why it's any different to Stephen Robinson, Steve Clarke or all the managers who are doing well for their clubs.'