With players on expiring contracts free to talk to clubs, Joel Sked looks at players from the Scottish Premiership Hearts could target.
This past summer Hearts brought in a raft of new players as Craig Levein oversaw a much need overhaul of the squad.
Preparation started around a year ago as the club identified signings to bolster the side and give the team greater depth and experience. Such an undertaking won’t be required this summer with the squad only needing refined in certain areas.
Here are five players who could prove to be shrewd additions:
Gary Mackay-Steven - Aberdeen
Width has been a problem area in the last few of seasons for Hearts. The likes of Jake Mulraney and Danny Amankwaa have failed to hold down a regular spot in the team, while Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker and David Milinkovic were players who started wide and naturally drifted in field.
Callumn Morrison has been the only player to offer real width, stretching the game, getting the proverbial chalk on the boots. Only 19 years of age it has been a big responsibility for the player this term, one he has taken to well.
Mackay-Steven is one of the best wide players in the league and is a naturally gifted individual with pace and skill. He has proven himself in Scottish football and as such Aberdeen will fight to keep him at Pittodrie. However, he would be a welcome addition at Tynecastle bringing extra pace, trickery and a goal threat.
Glen Kamara - Dundee
The Finnish international was one of the finds of the season last campaign as Neil McCann unearthed him from Arsenal’s U23. Since then he has become a regular for Finland, gained significant first-team football experience and been linked to top-flight sides north and south of the border.
Yet, this term has been one of struggle. The Dens Park side are the worst in the league so far and Kamara has clearly been affected. The qualities which marked his first season at the club have been conspicuous in their absence, but they are there.
The 23-year-old would add a different dimension to the Hearts midfield. He has the ability to complement the likes of Olly Lee and Peter Haring. He can patrol the base of the midfield, building attacks from deep, while using his legs like octopus tentacles, stealing the ball away from opponents. His best quality, however, is his dribbling, bringing the team up the pitch, evading opponents, before shifting the ball to more creative team-mates.
Craig Halkett - Livingston
One of the revelations of the season, Craig Halkett is reminiscent of another player in Hearts’ ranks. Think strong, no nonsense, headers anything, always seems to be in the right place at the right time and generally just loves defending.
The 23-year-old is a younger Christophe Berra. He is the bedrock of the Livingston defence, the central figure which keeps the team glued together.
With Berra and John Souttar the only first-team centre-backs contracted to Hearts next season the club are on the lookout for more options. Young and inexpensive, Halkett is the ideal candidate and a potential long-term successor to Berra.
Lee Wallace - Rangers
Since the Championship winning season of 14-15, Hearts have struggled to sort the problematic left-back position. This season Ben Garuccio and Demetri Mitchell have traded places with the former putting in the more consistent performances.
With Mitchell primed to return to Manchester United in the summer, Hearts will require further strengthening of the position. Up until September 2017, Wallace was a regular at Ibrox, even becoming captain.
However, following injury and club suspension, he has fallen down the pecking order to third-choice at Rangers. Now 31, Wallace still possesses the running power and stamina which makes him such a threat from deep.
In addition, there could be a similar situation with Christophe Berra. The player is significantly more experienced than he was when he left and knows what the club is about.
Chris Cadden - Motherwell
Craig Levein is a fan of the versatile midfielder with Hearts linked to the player more than once, and it is easy to see why.
Cadden is a selfless team player, filling in numerous positions under Stephen Robinson at Fir Park, from full-back to winger, midfielder to forward. The player can be trusted to put in a shift, following the instructions of the manager.
However, it can be argued that it has been detrimental to his development. The 22-year-old requires a set position within a team, and under Levein a role narrow on the right-hand side of midfield would suit perfectly.
The Hearts boss has liked playing a winger on one side and a central midfielder tucked in on the opposite flank. Cadden’s power, strength and ability to drive forward with the ball, plus his experience in the centre, would be perfect for such a role.
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