ABERDEEN are set to call a halt to their pursuit of Motherwell midfielder Stephen Hughes — with Hearts poised to step in.
Dons boss Mark McGhee found out that the 26-year-old knocked back a £7000-a-week offer from English first division club Norwich City; an astonishing wage level for a mid-table SPL player which would seem to price the player out of a move north.
This overvaluation immediately alerted financial profligates Hearts, who have the largest loss in the SPL of just under £3.5m, a wages-to-turnover ratio of over 120% — double the recommended level — and debt of over £30m, according to the latest PriceWaterhouseCoopers figures.
New Dons gaffer McGhee saw Hughes as an ideal replacement for departing captain Scott Severin, but has now turned his attention elsewhere.
McGhee told BBC Scotland last week: "Stephen Hughes knows of our interest but he's keeping his options open.
"One report said he's turned down £7,000 a week. That's way out of our league so it's unlikely that Stephen Hughes will be coming to Aberdeen.
"By all accounts Hearts pay some high wages but the rest of us can't compete in that league."