Niall McGinn completes switch from Aberdeen to Gwangju in South Korea

Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn celebrate with Aberdeen
Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn have both left Aberdeen this summer

Northern Ireland forward Niall McGinn has completed his move from Aberdeen to South Korean top-flight club Gwangju.

The 29-year-old, who joined the Scottish Premiership club from Celtic in 2012, rejected an offer to extend his stay at Pittodrie.

He has now announced on Twitter that he is looking forward to a "new chapter" and "a new, exciting challenge".

"After five great years, I am moving on, but I will always remember my Aberdeen days very fondly," he said.

"When I joined Aberdeen in 2012, I had no idea of the great times that lay ahead."

McGinn leaves Derek McInnes' side after a season in which they finished runners-up in the Premiership to Celtic and also lost to the Glasgow side in the Scottish Cup and League Cup finals.

He joins Gwangju with Nam Ki-il's side sitting bottom of the K-League Classic after 17 games of the 2017 season and admitted to the club website that he realises his new team are "in a difficult situation".

"Since I met the club president a few weeks ago in Belfast, I have been researching Asian football and Korean football in particular," he said.

"I have been very impressed with what I have discovered.

Niall McGinn on Twitter in his new strip
Niall McGinn posted a photograph on Twitter of himself in his new strip

"This is a new, exciting challenge for me. One that is very different to anything I have experienced in my career to date.

"I am looking forward to continuing my career at Gwangju FC. I am the first Irish player ever to have signed for a Korean club."

McGinn, who began his career with Dungannon Swifts and moved to Celtic from Derry City, said he would "always be an Aberdeen fan".

He thanked McInnes, assistant Tony Docherty and their predecessors, Craig Brown and Archie Knox, who signed him after a spell on loan to Brentford from Celtic.

"The fans at Aberdeen also deserve immense credit and thanks," he added. "They took me to their hearts and I took them to mine."

Republic of Ireland winger Jonny Hayes also left Aberdeen this summer to join Celtic, Ryan Jack joined Rangers, fellow midfielder Peter Pawlett signed for MK Dons, while defender Ash Taylor also decided to leave Pittodrie.

McInnes has already bolstered his attacking options by signing Greg Stewart on loan from Birmingham City, while attacking midfielder Ryan Christie will be farmed out to Pittodrie for a second season by Celtic.

However, a move for Preston North End's Stevie May has been complicated by the English club's loss of manager Simon Grayson to Sunderland.

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Highlights of Niall McGinn's Aberdeen career

Meanwhile, an attempt to sign Shaun Maloney, who is out of contract with Hull City, has also stalled after the 34-year-old revealed an injury problem.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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