Faycal Rherras will jet into Edinburgh next week to complete his move to Hearts.
The 23-year-old full-back has been offered a three-year contract and hopes to further his career at club and international level by playing in Scotland.
Rherras is currently training with the Moroccan Olympic squad in Marrakesh and is due at Tynecastle towards the end of next week. He is keen to finalise his club future after leaving the Belgian side Sint-Truiden at the end the season. He is available on a free and was shown around Riccarton last month.
Hearts want to strengthen their defence ahead of next season and see Rherras as a useful addition. Predominantly right-footed, he can operate both at left-back and right-back. He previously played with Vise but has spent the last three years at Sint-Truiden, who finished 13th in the 16-team Belgian top-flight.
Although born in Liege, Rherras is eligible for Morocco through his parents. He could represent the African nation in this summer’s Rio Olympics if he makes the final squad. That could ultimately delay the start to his Hearts career, although he is being viewed as a long-term signing by the Tynecastle hierarchy. Talks have also taken place with former Scotland goalkeeper Paul Gallacher about a role at Riccarton. The 36-year-old – currently player/coach at Partick Thistle – is considering retirement after being sounded out about becoming Hearts’ new goalkeeping coach.
The Edinburgh club have released Neil Alexander but do not intend to recruit someone in a player/coach capacity this time. Talks with Gallacher have been positive but he has still to decide if he is ready to hang up his gloves. Matt Gilks, another former Scotland keeper, has yet to make a final decision on whether he will be Hearts’ new No.1. Club officials hope to have the 33-year-old in place for pre-season training starting in two weeks time. Second choice Jack Hamilton is to go on loan, meaning a back-up goalkeeper would also be required.
Hearts have confirmed the exits of six players from last season’s senior and under-20 squads. Goalkeeper Alexander, Spanish midfielder Miguel Pallardo and Polish defender Blazej Augustyn have all departed from Robbie Neilson’s first team. Under-20 players Jahmal Howlett-Mundle, Sean McKirdy and Liam Henderson have also left.