STEVE BRUCE spent £2.75million to prise John McGinn from Celtic’s grasp last summer.
It looked as though the Hibs dynamo was heading for his boyhood heroes until the-then Aston Villa made his interruption at the eleventh hour to whisk the player to the Midlands outfit.
Now Bruce, who took over as Newcastle boss from Rafa Benitez this summer, insists McGinn is good enough for Manchester United.
The Scotland international, who has scored seven goals in his last five games for his country, has been linked with a megabucks move to Old Trafford when the January transfer window reopens.
McGinn will face Bruce’s side on Monday night – and even his former manager admits he has been surprised by the 25-year-old’s meteoric improvement.
The much-travelled gaffer, speaking to the Daily Mail, said: “We always knew he was going to be a very good player, but we didn’t think he was going to go on and, if I’m brutally honest, be what he is now.
“‘From what he has done in 12 months, he is at that level (Manchester United). He can only improve, as well.
“He has to be one of my best-ever signings because he has a determination to do well. I wish I could find a few more like him, that’s for sure.”
Bruce, though, has revealed that Villa very nearly missed out on his signature amid the financial constraints of the club’s previous owners.
He added: “How we got him ahead of Celtic I don’t know, because his grandfather used to be the chairman.
“It took a couple of games of golf at the Belfry with his dad until we could muster the money together. Just at the right time the new owners came in and we nicked him away from Celtic.
“But I am delighted for the kid because he is smashing lad. It took him a minute to win over the supporters because he crashed into a tackle and sprayed a 50-yard pass.”