By Alex McLeish

10th Sep, 2020 | 12:37pm

'There was talk of him going to Celtic' - Exclusive: McLeish drools over the 'new Lampard'

Alex McLeish has revealed he is a massive admirer of John McGinn and explained how Aston Villa pulled off a great deal to beat Celtic to his signature.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Scotland manager has watched closely as the “new Frank Lampard” has taken English football by storm over the last two years.

Aston Villa fought off strong interest from Celtic to prise McGinn, 25, from Hibernian in the summer of 2018 for what now looks an absolute bargain £3million.

McGinn signed a new contract last summer after his starring role in the Midlands giants’ Championship promotion campaign and he was outstanding in his first Premier League season before injury halted his progress.

“John has come on leaps and bounds in a couple of years but the potential was always there at St Mirren, an excellent, robust young midfielder and then he did a great job at Hibs as well,” McLeish told Football Insider. “There was talk of him going to Celtic but
Villa came in with quite a big bid and Hibs would bite their hand off, no doubts they’d bite their hand off for that and John has gone from strength to strength.

“The experience of John playing in that league every game has enhanced not only his gravitas but it enhances his mind and his confidence and you can see that clearly that he’s playing, he comes on the field and he doesn’t fear anybody now.

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“He does those fantastic runs into the box, a la the new Lampard, guys like that and there’s been loads of Villa fans [saying] Gareth Barry, I compared him to Gareth earlier last season.

“The way he swashbuckled into the box and got goals for Villa, if John McGinn can do half as good as Gareth then he’ll be a Villa legend.

McGinn has made 75 appearances for Villa, which have yielded 11 goals and 13 assists.

He was also a regular scorer from midfield for his former clubs Hibs and St Mirren, and has seven international goals from 23 Scotland caps.

In other news, Celtic are working on a deal to sign a dazzling forward on a pre-contract after huge development.