ATTRACTING new players to Hearts is much easier than last year with the club back in the Scottish Premiership and playing to average crowds of 16,000.
That was the view today from head coach Robbie Neilson, who said players are now “desperate” to join the Tynecastle club.
Neilson admitted he had to persuade some targets to sign for Hearts last summer, whilst others flatly refused. The club had been relegated whilst in administration and were preparing for life in the Championship, which made luring new recruits difficult.
This year, the landscape has changed. Automatic promotion back to the Premiership and an average home attendance of 15,985 makes Hearts an attractive prospect, according to Neilson.
“It’s easier this year in the sense that we’re about to take the step up and play in the top league in Scotland,” he explained to the Evening News.
“Players want to come and play in the top league in any country they play in. To attract a player last season to Scotland for a start, and then say to them, ‘it’s not the top league, it’s the second league,’ was really difficult.
“There were a lot of guys who weren’t interested in coming. This year, there are players who are desperate to come here. They’ve done a bit of homework on us, they see the crowds we’re getting and the exposure we’re getting in the city. It is making it easier to attract them.”
Hearts’ preference is to sign young and ambitious players who can develop at Tynecastle and be sold on for a profit at a later date. However, Neilson said he would not dismiss anyone purely because of age.
“We are looking for younger guys that we can develop and sell on but you can never say never in football,” he continued. “If somebody comes along that’s 30 years old, who I think offers real value for money and can add a lot to the squad through experience, then it’s something I would look at. Ideally we are looking at younger guys who want to come in because they’re hungry and they want to do well. They can move on afterwards, once they’ve done well for us.”