Hearts boss jets to Spain for talks

Genero Zeefuik is not expected to return to Hearts
Genero Zeefuik is not expected to return to Hearts
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Hearts coach Robbie Neilson jets out to Spain today for talks with an unnamed striker who is high on his list of summer targets.

Neilson wants a new forward with pace, energy and a natural scoring instinct to replace Genero Zeefuik. He will also meet with a midfielder and a defender as he takes time out from a family holiday to attend to Hearts’ recruitment plans.

Zeefuik has returned to parent club FC Groningen after a five-month loan at Tynecastle, during which he scored 12 goals in 15 appearances. The Dutchman’s efforts helped Hearts secure promotion back to the Scottish Premiership, however he is not expected to return to Edinburgh next season. He still has another year on his contract in the Netherlands.

His replacement must be quick and dynamic with an eye for goal, according to Neilson. Hearts want four or five new players for their top-flight campaign and will prioritise forwards and defenders. With targets identified and contact already made, Neilson flew to Spain today eager to meet the striker he wants to bring to Hearts.

“I’m doing a couple of things while I’m out there, meeting players and watching games,” he told the Evening News. “If we get something tied up it will be great but I expect it to be a bit later on. I’ll be over in Spain to look at a couple of players and meet some players as well. It’s a good chance to go and see some games.

“I’m going to see a striker and a midfielder, although midfield isn’t high on my priority list. There’s a defender as well but the striker is the main one.”

Hearts hope to generate strong competition in attack for next season and any new arrival must fight for a starting place alongside Osman Sow, James Keatings, Soufian El Hassnaoui, Dale Carrick and Gary Oliver. Neilson revealed the criteria he is looking for.

“I want somebody with pace and energy who scores goals, is a good character and hopefully a leader. Guys like that are difficult to get,” he explained.

“There are a few we’re pushing forward with, it’s just making a final decision on who is the one I want.

“I’d prefer a permanent signing if we can get it but, it it’s a loan which could do us a turn, then I’ll look at that.”