Hearts confirm pre-contract signing of Uche Ikpeazu

Uche Ikpeazu is unveiled as a Hearts player at Tynecastle. Picture: heartsfc.co.uk
Uche Ikpeazu is unveiled as a Hearts player at Tynecastle. Picture: heartsfc.co.uk
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Hearts have confirmed the signing of Cambridge United striker Uche Ikpeazu on a pre-contract deal.

The London-born striker will make the move from the Abbey Stadium in the summer, when his current contract with The U’s expires.

Ikpeazu, 23, has agreed a two-year deal with the Jambos and joins after spending two seasons at Cambridge, where he so far has 22 goals in 78 appearances to his name.

He told HeartsTV he was “delighted” to have got the deal sorted, adding: “I’m looking forward to being a Hearts player next season.

“Playing football in England, I didn’t know much about Scottish football to be honest but I did know that Hearts is a big club.”

“When I came to the stadium and I saw it for myself, it was crazy. I’m looking forward to playing in front of some big attendances - 18,000 fans every game.

“That’s what attracted me, and having a manager in Craig [Levein] who really wanted to work with me, I feel that’s the most important thing to feel wanted, and that’s the way I felt.

“He really wants to work with me, he feels that he can get the best out of me and help me to develop as a player and make me become a better player than I am just now.”

Cambridge had been keen to hang on to the powerful forward but Ikpeazu reportedly made it clear that he was seeking a new challenge at a higher level.

The striker came through the youth ranks at Reading and, after a brief loan spell at Didcot Town, joined Watford in 2013 for an undisclosed fee.

He was sent out on loan to Crewe Alexandra, Doncaster Rovers, Port Vale and Blackpool.

Ikpeazu will join up with his new team-mates on July 1 and is the second striker in 24 hours to sign a pre-contract with the Jambos after St Johnstone forward Steven MacLean agreed a similar deal yesterday.

In a statement posted on his Twitter account, Ikpeazu paid tribute to Cambridge and the club’s fans, saying: “I just want to say a big thank you to Cambridge United FC. I appreciate the opportunity you gave me.

“The support from the fans has been amazing!

“I also want to thank all the staff and everyone connected to the club, especially Shaun Derry and Joe Dunne who have both played an integral part in my development over the last couple of years.

“Last but not least I would like to thank my team-mates who have played a key role in my progress as a footballer and person on and off the pitch.

“I wish the club the very best for the future and I will continue to give my best between now and the end of the season.”

READ MORE - Five things Hearts fans should know about Uche Ikpeazu