The boy Don good
Aberdeen's Chris Maguire faces the biggest decision of his fledgling career this summer.
Having positively grown in stature this term, the 22-year-old is out of contract in the close season and it appears he's a young man very much in demand, with Blackburn Rovers reported to be heading the queue of potential suitors along with several other English clubs.
The year may be little more than a month old, but 2011 has already proved memorable for Maguire. He bagged his first senior hat-trick for the Dons in their 6-0 Scottish Cup victory over East Fife and he's also earned his first senior call-up to the Scotland national team. It is expected that there will be much more to come.
Maguire's treble, on the back of some stunning form, ensured he did not escape Craig Levein's attentions, and he was rewarded with a place in the squad for the Carling Nations Cup clash with Northern Ireland.
While some have doubted whether Maguire can cut it in the English top flight, he has received the backing of one of his former club colleagues. Former Aberdeen captain Russell Anderson left the club for Sunderland in a £1 million deal in 2007 and believes Maguire has what it takes to shine in one of the best leagues in the world.
"Chris has really developed in the three-and-a-half years since I left the club," Anderson said. "When I was there, he was just breaking through, but we had quite a settled side at that stage so it was quite difficult for him to command a regular place.
"The manager at the time didn't make an awful lot of changes from week to week but whenever Chris did play he performed well.
"He's been in and around the first team at Aberdeen for a few years now having first emerged when he was just 17, but people tend to forget he's only 22 and still has a lot of time on his side, although he's clearly matured in recent seasons and has fairly bulked up as well.
"It'll be interesting to see what he decides to do in the summer and he's certainly holding all the aces now. I wasn't surprised when he was linked with a few clubs in England during the January transfer window.
"If he was to move to the right club and was given the right guidance he could do well down south. The likes of Graham Dorrans and Robert Snodgrass have made a real impact at West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United respectively.
"Chris should be thinking that if they can make the successful switch then there's no reason why he can't as well, especially as they are only slightly older than him. It'll be up to him if he decides to go but I'm sure Aberdeen will do all they can to keep him because he's a talent."
Anderson, who is now at Derby County and battling back to full fitness following hamstring trouble, reckons his old club will benefit from Maguire's first senior call-up.
"Chris will have gained a lot of confidence from just being named in the Scotland squad, regardless of whether he plays or not," he said. "He's definitely the type of player Craig Levein is encouraging right now and he thoroughly deserves his call-up.
"Chris has already done very well at Under-21 level for Scotland and the recognition will only strengthen his position in terms of his contract negotiations with Aberdeen.
"It looks as though he is keeping his options open, which he is quite entitled to do, and if he does well for the national team then who knows who might come in for him. Aberdeen will reap the rewards of Chris being involved with the Scotland side because he can only learn from training alongside the best players the country has to offer.
"There's an argument that he should opt to stay at Aberdeen and continue to learn his trade but, at the same time, if he does have a genuine chance to move to England that opportunity might never materialise again.
"I'm sure he'll be getting well advised and will make the decision that's best for him."
Dons boss Craig Brown, who has also managed the Scotland national side, has no doubts his star striker can cut it at international level, but he remains hopeful Maguire will decide to continue his career development at Pittodrie.
"Chris is the type of player who performs better on the bigger stage and has all the requirements to play international football," Brown said. "He's got the control and pace and Chris can also shoot very effectively. In fact he has all the qualities you look for in a forward.
"It is great for Chris that he has been recognised by Scotland coach Craig Levein."
No matter what Maguire decides to do this summer, it seems certain it's only a matter of time before he follows in Anderson's footsteps to tread the lucrative path south.