Talk of Gary Mackay-Steven’s potential departure to New York City dominated talk at Aberdeen’s training base yesterday.
News of an approach from the MLS side filtered through on Thursday morning and manager Derek McInnes was keen to stress the development was still at an early stage.
On the face of it, it is easy to see why the move, should it proceed, would be attractive to Mackay-Steven. Greater finance, a better climate and the lure of the Big Apple may be a one-time chance for the Thurso-born winger.
But McInnes was right to stress that Mackay-Steven had to remember the platform the Dons have given him at Pittodrie.
As part of a quick-silver, slick attacking trio at Dundee United – alongside Ryan Gauld and Stuart Armstrong – Mackay-Steven first caught the eye under Jackie McNamara’s side that got to the Scottish Cup final, where they were beaten by St Johnstone.
A move to Celtic followed, with Armstrong and fellow Arab team-mate Nadir Ciftci, and Mackay-Steven enjoyed a run in the side under Ronny Deila. However, once Brendan Rodgers arrived and Scott Sinclair followed him north of the border, game-time was in short supply and Aberdeen moved for his services 18 months ago.
While at times he can be an enigmatic and frustrating player, Mackay-Steven seems to have found a level of consistency at Pittodrie that has allowed his obvious talent to emerge once again.
He is left-footed but is not confined to that side, with McInnes taking advantage of his dribbling skills and ability to change direction quickly to provide a threat from the right flank. Every left-footer playing “inside out” on the right has the risk of being compared to Arjen Robben, but Mackay-Steven seems to have transformed his unpredictability from being a hindrance to an asset.
A move to America at this stage of his career may be surprising, however he can also point to his former United and Scotland colleague Johnny Russell, who has continued to earn international recognition playing in the States for Kansas City.
It may be Mackay-Steven’s last chance to make a big statement move. It would perhaps be a bigger statement than any if he chose to stay with Aberdeen and spearhead their challenge for silverware.
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