Robbie Neilson believes Hearts have signed Premiership-quality players in Morgaro Gomis, James Keatings and Soufian El Hassnaoui.
Although the Edinburgh club were relegated to Scotland’s second tier for next season, their head coach stressed today that they would have targeted the same new recruits even if they remained in the top flight.
Gomis, Keatings and El Hassnaoui have all signed three-year deals at Tynecastle as Hearts begin rebuilding after a year-long administration process. Winger Sam Nicholson has also agreed a new three-year contract, and goalkeeper Neil Alexander is wanted following his release from Crystal Palace.
Gomis arrived on freedom of contract from Dundee United, while Keatings chose to leave newly-promoted Hamilton to join Hearts. El Hassnaoui was allowed to leave Sparta Rotterdam for financial reasons, meaning all three new faces have arrived in Gorgie for free.
Neilson outlined his contentment with his club’s business to date by saying that Hearts would have wanted all three to play for them in the Premiership. “The players we’ve brought in are good players and everyone is excited about them,” he told the Evening News. “They are players we would’ve had no qualms bringing in even if we’d been in the Premiership, never mind the Championship. They are good, quality signings who have played at a high level.”
Neilson added that Nicholson would not have been short of options had he decided to leave when his contract expired at the end of the season. The 19-year-old, however, is keen to stay with the club he has supported since childhood.
“Getting Sam signed up again is good for the club. He’s a big prospect for us and it’s clear he wants to stay,” continued Neilson. “Sam could quite easily have moved on to a bigger club because teams are willing to pay money for guys like him. It’s pleasing that he wanted to stay and develop at Hearts.”