It didn’t take long for the £2m signing of John McGinn in the summer of 2018 to look like a bargain for Aston Villa. Indeed, the midfielder was an instant success at Villa Park, pushing the West Midlands club to promotion to the Premier League in his first season and playing a key role in re-establishing them in the English top flight.
Now, though, McGinn is reaching another level in his performances. That £2m fee paid to Hibernian for the midfielder increasingly looks less than a bargain and more like daylight robbery with McGinn only getting better and Steven Gerrard knows it with the Scotland international taking on more responsibility.
Gerrard has made an instant impact as Aston Villa’s new manager, winning three of his first four matches in charge. The former England and Liverpool captain has given Villa the structure they were previously lacking under Dean Smith, favouring a narrow approach that demands the full backs provide width.
This approach also asks more of John McGinn to provide Aston Villa with drive through the centre of the pitch but the 27-year-old is thriving, scoring one and assisting another in his four matches under Gerrard. McGinn gives Villa another dimension and embodies what the new manager wants to see from his team.
“John has certainly been one of the most consistent ones over the four games,” Gerrard said after Aston Villa’s comeback win over Leicester City at the weekend, a match that saw McGinn contribute an assist and drive his team forward throughout. “I knew John a little bit before I came through the door, and I knew he’d be the type of player to run through a wall for me.
“The effort, the commitment and the desire, the energy that he gives this team, but not only that he plays with real quality as well. Some of his passing was outstanding. So, I’m super pleased with John and what he’s given over the past few games. The challenge for him now is for him to stay in this place.”
Considering the standard of McGinn’s recent performances, it’s unsurprising that he is being linked with bigger, richer clubs. Most recently, it was reported that the Scotland international is on Manchester United’s radar with interim manager Ralf Rangnick in the market for an energetic midfielder in his mould.
Fred has already demonstrated his worth to Rangnick with a Man of the Match display in the German’s first game in charge against Crystal Palace, but United need more depth in the centre of the pitch with Paul Pogba likely to be on his way out of the club at the end of the season. John McGinn would give Manchester United real bite, should Aston Villa agree to sell him. He fits the bill.
It’s easy to envisage McGinn even succeeding for a team like Liverpool, where Jurgen Klopp would surely made good use of the Scot’s natural drive. At 27, McGinn is entering his peak and there is a growing sense that he could still take another big step in his career. Aston Villa might not be his ceiling. In fact, it might be a springboard to even bigger and better things for a player who has embraced every challenge he has faced.
Technically, McGinn is good enough to control games through his use of the ball. He knows how to play a pass in behind and how to drive a team forward. With John McGinn in this sort of form, Aston Villa can plot their way up the Premier League table, but the Scotland international could also move up the table in another way, whether it’s in January or in another transfer window.
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