Hearts: Top ten January transfer window signings
The January transfer window can be one of the most interesting and exciting periods of the season – but it’s also a notoriously tough time to find quality recruits.
There are many examples of mid-season additions going horribly wrong in Gorgie. Thankfully, these ten examples show it’s not all bad:
10. Genero Zeefuik
He was here for a good time, not a long time. If it weren’t for YouTube and the ease with which fans are able to bring up old highlights, Zeefuik would be one of those near-mythical players your dad talks about. Here came a striker with an alarmingly large waist-size but in that bruising physique existed a glue-like touch and a penchant for scoring loads of goals. He hit double figures in half a season to give an injury-ravaged Hearts attack some extra punch on their path to the Scottish Championship crown in 2015.
9. Danny Wilson
Came to the club when it was on its knees in 2013 and did an admirable job as captain of a startlingly young side which eventually dropped out of the top flight due to a 15-point deduction despite a valiant effort. He then captained the team which made it back at the first time of asking before going off to rejoin Rangers. Not someone who was taken to the hearts of fans – hard when you play alongside the scorer of 40-yard derby screamers, Alim Ozturk – but was widely respected throughout his spell.
8. Deividas Cesnauskis
The third Lithuanian to arrive at the club after Vladimir Romanov acquired Hearts, he was excellent on debut and showed enough promise towards the end of the 2004/05 season. Got off to a slow start the following campaign but eventually came good and was arguably the club’s most consistent player in an otherwise stumbling end to the famous, cup-winning season. That would be the peak of his powers, however, as he only showed flashes in the two campaigns which followed prior to his release.
7. Lee Miller
Exactly like Zeefuik but did his work in the top flight. Miller was a revelation in the latter half of the 04/05 season and it’s difficult to imagine just how pedestrian John Robertson’s side would have been without his goalscoring touch as he bagged 11 in 23 games. Decided against a contract offer from Hearts and instead joined Dundee United (huh?!), a choice which proved to be costly for the player as he failed to do much at Tannadice while Hearts went out and signed a Champions League winner as his replacement. Still fondly remembered, though.
6. Ryan Stevenson
What’s the best way to make up for vexing the fans with complaints about car payments? Why, scoring a belting goal in a cup victory against Hibs of course! Could go through lengthy spells with little contribution but always seemed to step up in big games . He scored in memorable wins over Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen and, as mentioned, Hibs, while his performance in the 3-2 League Cup final defeat to St Mirren was exceptional. He was the emotional leader in the second half of the doomed 2013/14 season, including netting a hat-trick in a 5-0 mauling of Kilmarnock, which at least made Kris Boyd unhappy.
5. Steven Naismith
The Scottish international could have been top three with a little more luck. Twice he was struck down in the 2018/19 season when his impact was having a major boost on Hearts’ performances and the team went into the toilet as a result of his absence. Struggled a little the following season in a dire side and it eventually became clear last term he was finished at the top level, so he retired and joined the coaching staff. He acted like one on the field all the time anyway, so it was a natural progression.
4. Saulius Mikoliunas
Hearts’ most capped foreig n player of all time . Was he about the most inconsistent attacker to ever grace the Tynecastle turf? Perhaps. But he also had a habit of smashing in terrific goals, and the one match in five when he was on his game, he was an absolute joy to watch. Got a lot of stick from supporters and unfairly became the poster boy for Romanov’s meddling, but ultimately left with everyone’s best wishes after four-and-a-half years. The definition of a cult player. Plus, his dive against Scotland was quite funny.
3. Liam Boyce
He failed in his initial remit to keep Hearts in the top flight, though in fairness he was carrying an injury toward the end of the truncated and ill-fated 2019/20 season. Since then, however, there can be no complaints about his output. Finished top goalscorer last season and is currently on course to become the first Hearts player to score 20 goals in a single campaign since John Robertson, despite a drought of only one goal in his last seven appearances.
2. Bruno Aguiar
The Portuguese player would easily have been No 1 on the list if he’d been utilised properly when he first came to the club – even though a few month s after joining in January 2006, Hearts finished second in the SPL – and if Julien Brellier hadn’t tried to remove one of his legs in training. When he finally returned, after 18 months out, he became undoubtedly the club’s most valuable player in the surprisingly competent 2008/09 season when Csaba Laszlo took them to third. Aguiar was the lynchpin of the attack from the No 10 role.
1. John Souttar
This has aged very badly, but putting aside his potential impending move to Ibrox, there’s no doubting Souttar’s impact over the past five years. Quickly established himself as a first-team regular while still 20 and would’ve easily topped over 250 appearances for Hearts – or moved on sooner – if not for the five serious injuries he suffered during his time in Gorgie. A Rolls Royce of a defender. It's a real shame he looks set to leave for nothing.