A week is a long time in football. Or so says one of the game's…
When Niall McGinn parted way with Aberdeen in the summer there seemed to be a clear winner and loser. The Northern Irishman was leaving the north-east for a brand new adventure in South Korea’s K-League. On the other hand, the Pittodrie club were left to ponder life without a player who had been directly involved in more goals for them than anyone else over the past four seasons.
As if football could be that predictable. Fast forward a few months and Aberdeen are somehow better than ever under Derek McInnes despite the departure of McGinn and his former partner in crime, Jonny Hayes.
McGinn on the other hand is struggling to adapt to Korean football and rumours are beginning to circulate that Hearts may offer the Northern Irishman a route back to Scotland.
This wouldn’t just be a good move for McGinn, but an excellent move for Hearts.
Hearts are in a bit of a slump having lost their last three league games. Now obviously one player can’t completely turn round the fortunes of a club, but McGinn is exactly the kind of player that the Gorgie side need. You only have to look at their goals for and against this season to see how much they’re struggling.
As the numbers show, Hearts have not only scored the least out of the top six clubs so far this season, they’ve also conceded the most. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this formula is not conducive to on-field success.
The Midlothian club have struggled to find effective players to play on the right and left hand side of their midfield. The good news is that McGinn is versatile and can play on either flank. This was something he did to great effect at Aberdeen. This versatility added with his great crossing ability makes him a significant attacking prospect.
As previously mentioned McGinn not only creates goals, but he scores them too. He directly contributed to 88 goals through goals and assists for Aberdeen. In essence that’s a goal or assist every 131 minutes.
Another great attribute of the 30-year-old is his ability to deliver goals from set pieces. He contributed more goals from set pieces than any other player during in his last four seasons at Pittodrie. Another great weapon that Hearts would reap the benefits from.
When you look into the numbers you realise the full extent to which Hearts are devoid of creativity and goals. Levein’s search for a solution has led him to no less than a total of eight different players featuring on the wing for Hearts over eleven league games.
If Hearts had a winger of McGinn’s ability there’s just no way there would be so much chopping and changing. The fact there’s such a continuous change of personnel on both flanks suggests another problem: a lack of quality in the eight players who have played there this season.
Low and behold when we dug into the numbers it became evident that those eight players weren’t contributing much in terms of goals and assists.
Not to suggest his stats were poor, but if we were to choose another season the gap between himself and these eight Hearts players would have been wider. For example, in the first 13 games of the 2015/16 season McGinn scored two and provided a whopping seven assists.
McGinn’s proposed move to Tynecastle is only a rumour at this point. However if there is any chance for Craig Levein and Ann Budge to get him to Gorgie then they’d be extremely foolish to pass up that opportunity.