HEARTS will recruit mainly European players this summer as head coach Robbie Neilson replenishes his squad.
The departures of Danny Wilson, Brad McKay, Adam Eckersley, Jason Holt, Scott Robinson and Genero Zeefuik leave gaps to be filled and the Edinburgh club intend to source fresh talent from abroad.
Neilson explained today that the continental market offers better value for money compared with Britain. He has looked at players in England but found their wages to be outwith Hearts’ budget for next season. As a result, he is already speaking to players from European countries. He hopes to bring in up to five new faces to reinforce his squad ahead of Hearts’ return to the Scottish Premiership. Defence remains the priority, with a striker also highly sought after by the Edinburgh club. Asked if it will be predominantly European players coming in, Neilson told the Evening News: “More than likely, yes. It’s more than likely that the majority of them will be from abroad just because of the value for money. I’m always open to players down in England but the issue you have is just that the wage demands they have are unrealistic to try and get them up here for what I believe their ability levels are.”
In a welcome change from previous regimes, Neilson insisted Hearts would not exceed their player budget no matter the reason. “We have a budget and that’s it,” he continued. “We aren’t going to go over our budget because it’s set in stone. For me, any player who comes in has to be value for money. If I can get somebody I feel is a similar player but on less money, then it’s a no-brainer. You go for the guy who’s on less money.”
• Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has been issued with a Scottish Football Association notice of complaint after being sent to the stand against Rangers. Neilson has been accused of using “offensive, insulting and abusive language” and has until May 14 to respond.