Dominique Malonga is freed by Hibs

Dominique Malonga is being courted by Italian clubs
Dominique Malonga is being courted by Italian clubs
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Fans’ favourite Dominique Malonga has left Hibs after reaching an agreement to terminate his contract.

The 27-year-old striker joined the Easter Road club in September 2014 on a two-year deal, but has departed early amid stiff competition for an attacking berth, with the recent arrivals of Chris Dagnall and Anthony Stokes convincing him that he would be struggling to command the game time he craves.

The Congo internationalist has offers on the table from clubs in England and Italy. Serie B side Pro Vercelli publicly declared an interest in him last week.

Despite his early exit, Malonga will be classified as a successful Hibs signing. Although his languid style at times divided opinion, he leaves the club having scored 22 goals in 41 starts and was widely viewed as something of a cult hero among supporters.

After arriving in Edinburgh from Italian club Cesena 16 months ago, Malonga swiftly established himself as a first-choice partner for Jason Cummings last term. He scored 11 goals in his first 14 appearances for the club and made his debut for Congo in his early months as a Hibs player.

The Paris-born striker left Edinburgh for a month to compete at the Africa Cup of Nations last January but toiled to rediscover his form upon returning to Hibs for the remainder of last season.

Despite strong speculation that he was about to leave in the summer transfer window, he remained at Easter Road and, after a slow start to the current campaign, he gradually started to re-establish himself in the side in the autumn following a memorable solo goal in the League Cup win over Aberdeen.

Malonga remained part of Alan Stubbs’ plans right up to the end of his Hibs career, starting 13 of the team’s last 16 games. He scored in three of his last five appearances for the club, but, perhaps ominously, remained an unused substitute as new recruits Dagnall and Stokes both featured prominently in the 3-1 win over St Mirren on Saturday.

Stubbs stated in response to the interest from Pro Vercelli that he would be happy to keep Malonga but he has always made it clear that he won’t stand in the way of anyone who feels they need to move on in order to get more regular game time.

Malonga, who was a popular figure among the Hibs squad, said his farewells at East Mains yesterday. He follows Sam Stanton, Jordon Forster, Adam Eckersley, Henri Anier and Islam Feruz in leaving the club this month.

The five senior strikers now left at Stubbs’ disposal are Cummings, James Keatings, Dagnall, Stokes and Martin Boyle.