Prospects of Joaquim Adao staying at Hearts grew today when FC Sion revealed they are open to a deal for the midfielder.
Sporting director Marco Degennaro told the Evening News that the Swiss club would consider another loan or a permanent transfer, although they would want a fee to facilitate the latter.
Adao has two years remaining on his Sion contract and is on loan at Tynecastle Park until May. He revealed in this newspaper last month his desire to stay in Edinburgh beyond the summer. Supporters have taken to his combative style and remain hopeful an agreement can be reached.
Degennaro plans to speak with the Angolan internationalist next month to determine where he wants to play next season. An extended stay at Hearts is a realistic option for all concerned.
“We are happy to discuss if the Scottish club want to buy him or take him on loan again,” said Degennaro. “We are open to all the possibilities. It’s a great market in Scotland and it’s a good league. To have a player who can play in the Scottish league is a big plus so we are very happy with Adao being there.
“We also get the opportunity to follow the league so we have already seen Hearts games. Adao is getting much more attention there so it is definitely a good thing for us. At the beginning of next month we plan to hold talks and then have a chat with Hearts.”
Finances remain tight at Tynecastle, where the new £15million main stand has still to be completed. Hearts could afford to pay a small fee for Adao but any Sion demands for a significant amount would be a stumbling block to a permanent deal.
“We don’t have a price in our mind at the moment. It is probably too early,” said Degennaro when asked about Sion’s valuation of their player. “In a month or so, after a couple of discussions with some clubs, maybe then. We have not talked about a fee so far. At the moment we are open to any of the possibilities.
“In two or three weeks, we will have our discussion. Also, we will see if some offers come from Scotland or the UK in general. If there are no offers or no interest in the player, then he has to come back to Sion at the beginning of next season. If there are some clubs interested in him, then absolutely we can discuss things in a fair way.
“We have not had any interest from Scotland or the UK so far. We have other teams in other countries asking about him. That’s why we have to talk to Joaquim to understand what he wants and what he would like to do next season.”
Adao thrives on the intensity of Scottish football and is already something of a cult hero amongst Hearts fans. His popularity has soared in only eight appearances since he arrived in January. He earned a yellow card in each of his first six games before settling down to show his true capabilities.
In the last two matches against Hibs and Partick Thistle, he was one of Hearts’ better players. Last month, just three weeks into his stay in Scotland, he revealed he was already contemplating a permanent move here. He was waiting on his family jetting across to join him at the time.
“If I have the chance to come back here, then why not? I am enjoying Edinburgh and I am enjoying Hearts,” said the 25-year-old.
“I have a good relationship with Sion. I was a young player there and I have been with the club for more than eight years. The president [Swiss architect Christian Constantin] is like my father. If I speak and say, ‘I want to go,’ I think Sion can make it possible. They would not want to block me.”
They are unlikely to simply let him walk from his contract for free, however. Not when other teams are showing interest, and not when he has made a good impression in the Scottish Premiership in a very short space of time.
It is critical for Adao to ensure he plays regularly next term after falling out of favour at his formative club.
His last Sion appearance was on August 6 last year, meaning he arrived at Hearts on a four-month loan deal drastically short of match practice and sharpness.
The decision to send him to Scotland was made out of necessity to get him playing regular first-team football. According to Degennaro, it was also a good fit.
The physical nature of the SPFL is well known across Europe and Sion officials felt this was where Adao would function best.
His performances in the holding midfield role for Hearts confirm their prediction was correct.
“We know the player can have good results in the Scottish league with the skills he has,” said Degennaro.
“We still don’t have any direct contact or any discussions about what will happen in the future. We will wait until next month to decide what can happen. Adao has two more years on his contract here. As I said, everything is still open.”