By Frank McAvennie

10th Jan, 2021 | 3:00pm

Exclusive: Pundit in Celtic transfer claim after huge Aston Villa development

Frank McAvennie has heaped praise on Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn for his performances since returning from a serious knee injury.

The former Celtic and West Ham striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the Hoops wanted to sign the 26-year-old prior to his departure from Hibernian in 2018.

McGinn has been an ever-present for Dean Smith’s side in the Premier League this season, contributing one goal and four assists in 15 starts.

However, the Scotland international missed Friday night’s 4-1 loss against Liverpool in the FA Cup third round after a significant Covid outbreak forced the club’s first team and staff to self-isolate.

Last month the club announced that the centre-midfielder had put pen to paper on a new four-and-a-half year contract at Villa Park.

When asked by Football Insider for his assessment of the midfielder’s displays this season, McAvennie said: “McGinn is an exceptional player.

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“Celtic wanted to buy him and it did not go down too well when he moved to England.

“You have to give him credit though because there is not many players who have gone down to England and done well. He is doing very well.

“McGinn and Grealish have been playing well and with Barkley they have a new dimension.

“The three of them are fantastic together. They look as if they are enjoying themselves.

“Villa are building a great team. Smith has bought well. Watkins has also hit the ground running.” 

In other news, Gabriel Agbonlahor has been left bouncing by a significant Bodymoor Heath reveal regarding Wesley.