Hearts aim to tie up Arnaud Djoum on longer deal

Hearts' Arnaud Djoum, left, battles for the ball against Partick's Mustapha Dumbuya
Hearts' Arnaud Djoum, left, battles for the ball against Partick's Mustapha Dumbuya
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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson admits he wants to get Belgian midfielder Arnaud Djoum tied down on a longer contract.

The former Roda JC and Lech Poznan player arrived in Edinburgh on a short-term deal in September and, after building his fitness since then with a combination of substitute appearances and games for the club’s under-20 squad, he has performed well during his time in maroon.

A first start in the 2-0 win over Ross County was followed by a first goal, heading in a late consolation as Hearts went down 2-1 to Celtic in the League Cup quarter-final last week. There was further positive impact in his latest outing, winning the penalty for Hearts’ third goal in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Partick Thistle when he showed quick feet before being tripped when he seemed odds-on to double his goal tally.

A combination of steel and skill have made him a shrewd addition to the Gorgie side’s engine room, and Neilson hopes to secure his services beyond the new year. “He’s a good player, I’m pleased with him,” he said. “He’s signed up until January but we’re trying to get something tied up. He’s a good player who can play in various positions. It’s up to Arnaud how long that’s for. He’s been at Lech Poznan and he came in on trial and did really well. He just wanted a short-term deal to see what he thought of the place and he’s done great.

“We’ll hopefully try and get him tied up again and I’d like it to be longer term, but then it’s up to him.”

With Hearts second in the Ladbrokes Premiership table, Neilson again reiterated that the top six is his primary target, despite moving up the standings and overtaking Aberdeen. “It’s good, but I’ve said before the target’s always been top six,” he explained. “The closer we can stay to the top of the league, the more chance we’ve got of getting top six the longer it goes. We’re only 13 games into the season and we need to make sure we don’t get carried away. We had a great start to the season then fell away, lost a few games on the bounce and now we’ve picked up again. We just need to make sure that we keep our good run going.

“[The hype] is up to the press if they’re going to do it or not. We’re not going to do it. We’ll just continue to do the right things. Celtic are six points ahead of us now and starting to get a bit of a gap. We’ll aim for top six and try and get as close to Aberdeen as we can. At the moment we’re sitting above them but they turned us over at Tynecastle 3-1 quite convincingly so we’re still quite a bit away from them.”