Elijah Adebayo: Latest on Hearts' pursuit of Walsall striker as Robbie Neilson gives fresh update

Hearts have verbally agreed terms with Walsall striker Elijah Adebayo after holding talks.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 10:53 am
Updated Sunday, 24th January 2021, 12:30 pm
Hearts signing target Elijah Adebayo scored twice in Walsall's 3-1 win at Port Vale on Saturday. Pic: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The Edinburgh club now hope to reach a deal with the English League Two side and complete his transfer before the January window closes.

Walsall already rejected an offer from Tynecastle Park last week and want to keep the 23-year-old, who has ten goals from 28 appearances this season.

However, Adebayo has verbally agreed a move to Hearts having been manager Robbie Neilson’s principal signing target for some time.

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He scored twice in Walsall’s 3-1 win at Port Vale on Saturday and is free to talk to any interested club having entered the final six months of his contract on January 1.

Hearts would incur a £100,000-plus development fee if they sign the player this summer after his Walsall deal expires.

A FIFA rule change means training compensation – mostly due to Adebayo’s former club Fulham – would still apply until the end of 2021, so Tynecastle officials would prefer a quick transfer deal this month.

Walsall are reluctant to let the forward leave and are in discussions to extend his contract. Manager Darrell Clarke publicly criticised Hearts for their handling of the affair, prompting a phonecall from Neilson on Friday.

Neilson spoke exclusively to the Evening News about the situation and insisted his club have done everything strictly by the rules.

“It's well documented we put an offer in for Adebayo,” he said. “It initally got knocked back so we will see where that one goes and whether we go back in again.

“He has been the No.1 target for us for a while now. Ultimately, he is their player. He scored two goals again on Saturday. We just need to see if we can come to some agreement.

“I spoke to their manager on Friday night about it. The problem was that they didn't understand the rules, so I had to explain to them what the rules are when it's a cross-border transfer.

“They thought they were going by the English FA rules – that a player can only speak to other clubs when he enters the last month of his contract.

“The FIFA rules are that he can speak when he enters the last six months. They didn't understand that.

“If the player is contracted for more than six months then you need to speak to the club [to get permission to speak to him].

“As soon as he goes into the last six months of his contract, the player can speak to anyone, his agent can speak to anyone, and other clubs can speak to him. So that's what we did.

“Once you come to an agreement with the player then you go and approach the club. They didn't understand that.

“I explained that to them and I think they jumped in naively to an interview without having the full facts. It's just one of those things.

“I'm sure they will look at it. I'm pretty sure they will know the next time it happens when somebody comes in from outwith England.

“I was very disappointed in their comments that's why I phoned their manager about it. I hope he understands it. I hope he realises that what he said the other day isn't acceptable.”

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FIFA rule change means Hearts face a six-figure fee for Walsall's Elijah Adebayo...

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