New signing Faycal Rherras hopes his move to Hearts can act as a stepping stone to realising his long-term ambition of playing in England.
The Belgian-born Moroccan was one of four arrivals in Gorgie this week, the full-back joining striker Conor Sammon in signing a three-year deal at Tynecastle while forward Robbie Muirhead was secured for the 2016/17 season and former Partick Thistle goalkeeper Paul Gallacher was brought in as player-coach on a two-year contract.
Rherras, who made 82 appearances over the last two seasons for Belgian Pro League outfit Sint-Truiden, hopes to impress on maroon in order to eventually head south.
“I’ve heard good things about the competition in Scotland,” said the 23-year-old. “My dream is to play in England, and I know that in Scotland the league is similar in physicality and the style of football that is played in England. This move is a chance for me to do well and adapt to those characteristics, and to one day achieve my dream of playing football there. That’s why it is positive to come here and play well.”
As things stand, Rherras, who is right-footed but plays predominantly as a left back, will battle it out with Juwon Oshaniwa for a place in Robbie Neilson’s team, while also providing cover on the right and in midfield.
Oshaniwa has claimed he is attracting interest from Turkey but, should he remain in Edinburgh beyond August, his rival has welcomed the battle for a starting slot.
“Every footballer knows that they have competition for their position,” he accepted. “I am ready, I know that I have the capacity to help the team play better. I’m not scared about it. I’ll give my all and Robbie Neilson will make the decision on who is going to play.”
Rherras is pleased to have compatriot and fellow French-speaker Arnaud Djoum around to help him settle as he sets about improving his English.
“For sure, it’s easier when you come to another country and you don’t really speak the language that you have someone who can help you,” he said. “I’m happy that Arnaud is here and I will try to learn the language as quickly as possible.”