HEARTS should finally complete the signing of the Nigerian international defender Juwon Oshaniwa today. He was undergoing a medical at Riccarton last night and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, should sign a long-term contract this morning.
The 24-year-old’s capture will end a protracted transfer saga lasting more than two months. The left-back waited several weeks for a work permit, which was granted at the start of July, and then had to wait more than a fortnight for a visa. He finally collected the necessary paperwork in his country’s capital, Abuja, earlier this week and flew to Edinburgh yesterday.
Oshaniwa was Nigeria’s first-choice left-back at last summer’s World Cup in Brazil and is viewed as a genuine coup by Hearts.
Head coach Robbie Neilson admitted today that he feels fortunate to secure the signing of an experienced international defender.
“When we get it tied up it will be the longest transfer saga ever,” smiled Neilson. “I think we are fortunate to get him. As soon as his name came up, we looked at him and said ‘let’s target him’. He was our No.1 target for that area. If we can get him in and get it sorted, it’s great for us.
“We’re very friendly with his agent, who has a couple of players here, and he wants to bring Juwon here. Hopefully he views it as a springboard to move him on. The boy is keen to come to Hearts as well.”
Oshaniwa won’t feature in tomorrow’s opening Premiership match against St Johnstone, though. “I wasn’t going to involve him tomorrow because he needs to come in, train and get to know the players,” said Neilson. “Possibly he could play next weekend [against Dundee] if not then the midweek game against Motherwell. It’s been difficult because we’ve been waiting and waiting. I was hoping to get him for pre-season and build from there with him, but hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.
“Last season we brought in Adam Eckersley and Miguel Pallardo after the season had started. Everyone wants their full squad in for the first day of pre-season but it never happens like that.
“We expect him to do really well for us. Everyone who comes here wants to do well, play at a high level and move on to bigger things. If they do that, it’s a win-win for everyone.”