A frantic transfer deadline day at Hearts ended late last night as John Souttar joined Abiola Dauda and Don Cowie as new signings. The Tynecastle club recruited three players, with defender Souttar and midfielder Cowie agreeing permanent moves and Nigerian forward Dauda arriving on loan from Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem.
However, the imminent exit of Osman Sow, pictured, in a £1m-plus deal captured as much attention as any new signing. The Swede’s contract is due to expire at the end of the season but Chinese club Henan Jianye are prepared to pay a seven-figure sum to get him now rather than on a pre-contract agreement. He was in Beijing to undergo a medical yesterday evening.
Hearts signed Sow as a free agent after he left Crystal Palace in July 2014 and will use some of his transfer money to reinforce their squad. Souttar arrives for around £150,000 after his club, Dundee United, rejected several previous bids from Tynecastle. He signed a three-and-a-half-year contract shortly before the transfer window closed last night. Cowie agreed a deal until May 2018 and Dauda is on loan until the summer. In a surprise departure, Hearts vice-captain Morgaro Gomis joined Motherwell on loan until the end of the season. Midfielder Danny Swanson was released from his contract by mutual consent and is expected to join St Johnstone as a free agent.
Dauda, 27, holds a Swedish passport and is a quick and powerful striker. He previously played for Kalmar in Sweden, Red Star Belgrade in Serbia, plus Vitesse in the Netherlands. He expressed his delight at moving to Scotland after talks with the Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson. “I’m really happy to have signed, it’s been a long day but this has been worth waiting for. I’ve had a great welcome here,” he told the Edinburgh club’s website.
“I spoke with Robbie on the phone and he told me he has followed me for quite a while now, and as a player it is a dream to hear a coach say that. Now I have to go on the pitch and show him he made the right decision. I’m really looking forward to meeting my team-mates and learning the team’s style of play.”
Neilson added: “It’s great to get Abiola signed
up and he’s got a good pedigree. He was our number one
target at the start of the month but we thought the deal wasn’t going to happen, but it was back on again and I’m delighted to get him. He’s got pace, power and I’m sure he’ll score goals. The fans will see a top quality player who’s played at the top level in three European countries.”
Cowie’s signing was confirmed early in the afternoon to kick off a busy period of activity in Gorgie. “I’m absolutely over the moon,” said the former Scotland midfielder, who agreed to have his contract terminated at Wigan on Friday. As soon as I heard Hearts were interested they were the only team I wanted to sign for.
“It’s very exciting times for the club these days and I’m delighted to be a part of it. I’ve played here a few times before and it’s a great stadium with a great atmosphere. To get the opportunity to come and play here on a weekly basis was too good an opportunity to turn down.”
Neilson expects Cowie’s experience to be invaluable to Hearts. The midfielder has played in the English Premier League and names Watford, Cardiff City, Inverness and Ross County on his CV. “I’m delighted to get Don signed up,” he said. “He’ll bring experience to the table, which is invaluable when you’re trying to blood younger players into the first team.
“He’s played in the Scottish top flight before so knows our game, and he’s played at the highest level down south and won a Championship, so I know he’s a winner. Having played in England, he’ll show the players here the level they’ll have to get to if they have aspirations to play there themselves. He’s a great capture and I’m certain he’ll prove to be great value.”
Gomis’ loan move was a surprise but Neilson explained that the midfielder is eager to play more regularly. “Morgaro is at the stage where he wants to play regular first-team football every Saturday and with the depth of our squad it was something I couldn’t guarantee,” he revealed. “Therefore, we’ve agreed to let him go to Motherwell on loan with our best wishes. It’s a move that will work out well for all parties.”
Gomis insisted he wants to help Motherwell finish in the top six of the Ladbrokes Premiership. “Yesterday after training, the manager Robbie Neilson called me in his office and told me Motherwell were keen to take me on loan until the end of the season,” said the midfielder.
“I was kind of surprised but anything can happen in football. I have one more year on my deal at Hearts but we will see what happens. I am just concentrating on playing and winning games.”
Meanwhile, Jordan McGhee’s loan move to Middlesbrough collapsed late last night. The 19-year-old was due to move to the Riverside Stadium until the end of the season, but the deal didn’t go through in time due to paperwork not being lodged before the 11pm deadline. The deal may be resurrected in the summer.