Nine things you should know about Hearts signing Malaury Martin

Hearts new boy Malaury Martin in action for first club Monaco. Picture: Getty
Hearts new boy Malaury Martin in action for first club Monaco. Picture: Getty
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Malaury Martin becomes Heart of Midlothian’s third January addition, signing a three-and-a-half year deal.

The 28-year-old French midfielder joins Lennard Sowah and Aaron Hughes as Ian Cathro continues his reshaping of the Hearts squad. Here is all you need to know on the Tynecastle new boy.

He was one of the most highly-regarded players in France

Martin came through the much-vaunted youth academy at Monaco, representing France at a variety of youth levels. His biggest success was with under-19 side which reached the semi-finals of the 2007 Uefa European Championship. Martin hit a double in his country’s 5-2 defeat of Serbia, and was selected by Uefa as one of 11 players earmarked for a bright future.

Experienced and a leader despite a lack of football

At the age of 28-year-old, the midfielder has not played nearly as many competitive games as he should have with less than 120 appearances in a career which has spanned four countries. However, experience of different cultures will help him settle to Edinburgh. He was regarded as a natural leader at an early age, captaining France at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level, as well as Monaco’s second team.

Norway has brought the best out of him

His time in Norway suggests Martin is over injury problems which have stunted his development. He has played more games in the last two seasons combined than in his career previously – the first occasions he has played more than 20 league games in a season. His form in the second tier with Sandnes Ulf encouraged five-time Eliteserien winners Lillestrom to sign him. His eight league goals in 2016 helped them avoid relegation, starting 25 of 30 games.

He’ll add goals and composure to the Hearts midfield

When Uefa picked him as one of the star performers in the European Under-19 Championship they said about Martin: “Always looks composed on the ball and never seemed to give away possession in the engine room of a French side that at their best were as good as any in the tournament. Equally adept at passing short and long.”

He can play in the centre of midfield but has been best deployed as an attacking midfielder in Norway with a free-role. He is inventive and has an eye for a pass.

He’s a free-kick specialist

Few phrases in football excite fans as much as ‘free-kick specialist’. Hearts fans were fed the same line about Denis Prychynenko, who came through the youth system. Only for the midfielder to disappoint. However, fans should be more confident about Martin. There is tangible evidence, not only for his ability over free-kicks but shooting from distance.

His career was hampered by Kilmarnock

Martin was signed by Blackpool ahead of their maiden English Premier League campaign following a successful trial. However, he never played for the Tangerines after suffering cruciate ligament damage in pre-season friendly with Kilmarnock. He was left out of the club’s 25-man Premier League squad.

Tony Mowbray signed him for Middlesbrough

The former Hibernian manager made the then 22-year-old his first summer signing in 2011, telling the club’s official site: “Malaury can do a bit of everything and will be a useful addition to our midfield.

“He can pass, tackle and defend and he has a great shot on him, so we will try to utilise his talents.”

Although, as it turned out, Mowbray wasn’t overly keen, Martin failed to make a start in the Championship, coming off the bench on 15 occasions in the league.

He has rubbed shoulders with the very best

During his time with Monaco he trained alongside Patrice Evra, Maicon, Marco Di Vaio, Christian Vieri and Yaya Toure, who is credited as the best player Martin has encountered.

He has a desire to play football

Between July 2012 and February 2013 Martin was without a club but never thought about packing it in, even when the phone stopped ringing. While he may be 28 years old there is still a lot of football left in his legs if he can remain fit, which the most recent seasons suggests he can.