Robbie Neilson says new Hearts signing Miguel Pallardo can thrive in any environment having played in both the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp last season.
The head coach believes the midfielder has the mentality to handle Celtic Park, Ibrox and Easter Road without being fazed after his experiences in Spain.
Pallardo, joined Hearts on a contract until the end of the season after leaving Levante. He played for them against both Real Madrid and Barcelona last year and also counts Valencia and Getafe amongst his former clubs. The 28-year-old came to Scotland hoping to relaunch his career and Neilson is delighted he chose Tynecastle.
“Miguel gives us more options and more competition for places,” he told the Evening News. “I’ve got good options in centre midfield now so I can play different formations with different players and I can cover for suspensions and injuries.
“His last game was at the Bernabeu [in March], so I don’t have any issues about putting him into the team at Parkhead, Ibrox, Easter Road, Tynecastle, anywhere. He’s played in bigger games at bigger venues in front of bigger crowds. He’s already got that stature about him and the confidence that he can go there and play.”
Hearts visit Celtic Park on League Cup duty later this month and are also due at Ibrox and Easter Road in the league later in the season. Pallardo’s experience of high-octane fixtures will be important. “He brings a confidence to the other players around him,” continued Neilson. “When you have a guy like that in your team, or even on the training ground, it helps because he’s done a lot of things in football.
“He seems like a really good character and he’s made a big commitment coming here. He does things right in training and he looks after himself. We got a phonecall a while ago about him and I watched him but we couldn’t get him at that time. We got another phonecall just before the transfer window shut to say Miguel would be available. He came over, had a look round, trained and liked what he saw.”
Neilson and the Hearts coaching staff will take Spanish lessons to help them communicate with Pallardo. “He’s trying to speak English to the boys but his English isn’t great. Jack Ross, our under-20 coach, speaks a bit of Spanish, as do a couple of young boys. We’ll get someone in to help us out to communicate with him.
“He did English at school but it might be a confidence thing. I don’t envisage any problems with him.”