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McGhee wants to sign MacLean, but can Dons afford him?


By Michael Gannon


Published: 31/12/2009


Aberdeen manager Mark McGhee remains optimistic he can still persuade Steven MacLean to come to Pittodrie – but the Dons may have to dig deep to secure the services of the Plymouth Argyle attacker.


MacLean, a former Rangers forward, is currently on trial at Hearts, with a view to sealing a loan deal until the end of the season.


McGhee is keen on a similar agreement but has designs on making the move permanent in the summer.


However, the limited finances available at Pittodrie will be a major stumbling block.


The 27-year-old MacLean is under contract at Home Park until June 2011 and Plymouth are reluctant to write off a player who was their most expensive investment when he signed from Cardiff City for £500,000 in January 2008.


MacLean is so far out of the picture at Plymouth he is not even a regular for the reserves and has been told he can leave. But the final year of his contract could prove to be an obstacle as the Champion-ship club is reluctant to pay the Scot up for the remainder of his deal.


Plymouth are keen for the player to be in the shop window with whoever is willing to pay all, or the highest proportion, of his reported £5,000 a week salary – with a view to recuperating some of their investment in the summer.


The situation is equally complex regarding MacLean’s Plymouth teammate Jim Paterson, who is also on McGhee’s radar.


The 30-year-old former Motherwell defender is also under contract until 2011 and, although injured at the moment, he is part of new manager Paul Mariner’s plans and it would require a transfer fee to secure him in the summer.


McGhee is pursuing a number of options – but bringing back Russell Anderson is not one of them.


The Dons manager said: “We have made it clear we would be prepared to take MacLean permanently if we could do a deal. We are just waiting to see what will pan out at Plymouth.


“I don't know how long that could take. It could take to the summer.â€


McGhee is building for the short and long term but his immediate concern is the loss of attacker Sone Aluko for a minimum of another month.


The 20-year-old Nigerian forward requires keyhole surgery on the pelvic injury which has hindered him since his return from the under 20s World Cup in October.


McGhee has only witnessed fleeting glimpses of Aluko’s ability this term and he admitted: “That is a big disappointment to me because he has already been out injured for two months.


“It is going to be another month before we see him back because of this pelvic problem. Prior going to the world under-20 champion-ships I didn't think he was at his best.â€

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