Greg Stewart is poised to seal a season-long loan deal for Aberdeen, according to BBC Sport. Hearts, Hibernian, Motherwell and former club Dundee were all believed to be interested in bringing the 27-year-old up north, but Derek McInnes is a long-term admirer of the former Dens Park star, who moved beyond the border for £500,000 during the previous summer transfer window.
The Pittodrie gaffer has lost Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn from his squad and was keen to strengthen the wide areas, so Stewart’s arrival would be a massive boost for Aberdeen ahead of the Europa League qualifiers.
The attacker returns to Scottish football after having endured a frustrating season with Birmingham in the English Championship. Not only has Stewart been forced to play under four different managers, but he only played 22 times for the Blues as they struggled in league. He was unable to get on the scoresheet throughout this time, failing to score a single goal for the St. Andrews outfit.
However, Stewart was one of the brightest stars before his Dundee departure. He has the skill to confuse opponents as he takes set-pieces, while he creates chances and scores. He was twice nominated for PFA Scotland Player of the Year award during his time at Dundee, and he sat sat fifth in the entire league with 88 total shots during his 2015/16 campaign. In that same season, McGinn sat at 80 and Hayes was back on 67.
One thing that Aberdeen could benefit from is Stewarts age. Being only 27, The Dons could potentially get the best years of his career. The deal is only a season-long loan, but if he performs well this could open the door to a possible permanent move later on. No matter how unsuccessful his year was in England, being there for that length of time would have made Stewart a better player and Aberdeen can benefit greatly from that.
Not to forget that Stewart is a very versatile player. This will mean that McInnes will have the option to play him wherever he wants, whether that will be on either flank, right through the middle or just off the frontman. And since Hayes, McGinn and Peter Pawlett have left, Aberdeen need a flexible and adjustable player.
The only worry The Dons manager might have would lie in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. This was key to the way Aberdeen attacked their opponents, and Hayes and McGinn were vital in this plan. Although he has plugged other excellent players into the positions, he may not be able to stick with exactly the same strategy.
Although Stewart is a more versatile player, it may be more difficult for other players to play a different position than they are used to. For example, Ryan Christie is a natural winger, so it would be difficult to expect him to be just as good if he was used out wide.
However, with a team of great players like he has, McInnes will quickly figure out whether he will be able to fit these new players into his side, or if he will need to adjust his side to fit them.
When Rangers boss Pedro Caixinha first saw Aberdeen’s squad begin to break apart this summer, his end-of-the-cycle comments, saying how Aberdeen “may have reached their peak” looked prescient. Now, though, this new Aberdeen side might have him eating his words, because from the way things are going, they are not ready to give up their second spot without a fight.