Spartak insist McGeady not for sale despite Villa interest
SPARTAK MOSCOW have issued a stern hands-off warning to potential suitors after Aiden McGeady was linked with a move to Aston Villa.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Villa were prepared to end the Irish winger's "Russian nightmare", a bizarre statement considering that the 24-year-old is understood to have settled nicely into life in Moscow -- and has produced consistently good performances since his £9.5m switch from Celtic in the summer.
Therefore, Spartak sporting director Dmitri Popov moved quickly to head off any interest at the pass. "McGeady is certainly not for sale," said Popov, "It is not true that he is unsettled in Moscow. No one has approached us from Villa yet but, if they do, our answer will definitely be a no."
Certainly, the Glasgow native has made a big impression in his new surroundings and received glowing praise this week from ex-Manchester United and Rangers star Andrei Kanchelskis.
He feels that McGeady is already one of the elite players in the Russian Premier League. "I've got to give McGeady a perfect score for his performances this year," said Kanchelskis.
"I'd give him 10 out of 10. There haven't been many better. His quality on the ball has been excellent, his pace and mobility is now Spartak's biggest threat.
"I like his attitude. He's a winner, he doesn't give up on anything. This is a quality that all top professionals need, but not every talented footballer has it. He plays 100pc for the team. It's now clear this is a player with a big, big future."
Spartak were struggling in mid- table when McGeady arrived, and the biggest disappointment of his brief stint to date at the club has been missing out on qualification for next season's Champions League, despite a late charge.
They also missed out on qualification for the knockout stages of this season's Champions League, although a third-place finish in their group means they will contest the business end of the Europa League.
Poor behaviour by their supporters in last week's match in Zilina could result in sanctions ahead of the next stage, however.
Villa were on the trail of McGeady during Martin O'Neill's tenure, but never followed up on their interest.
It's unlikely that Richard Dunne would be recommending a switch to his international team-mate, given his falling out with Gerard Houllier over tactics and training.
And the unhappy Stephen Ireland will have showdown talks with the Frenchman on Thursday about his future. "This is a team thing. I mean, we are not playing tennis," said Houllier, justifying his decision to leave the Irish pair out of his XI for Saturday's win over West Brom.