Following the news that star striker Uche Ikpeazu is ruled out for between five and six month, Hearts fans turned a collective eye towards the January transfer window.
The new year will herald a new signing with Czech striker David Vanecek arriving having penned a pre-contract with the Gorgie side.
His presence in EH11 is even more pressing with the news of Ikpeazu’s foot injury. The Englishman’s absence has left Hearts a little short in the striking department.
The club weren’t able to bring forward the signing of Vanecek from his side FK Teplice, who understandably regard the 27-year-old as a key player. There was a glimmer of hope on the last day of the transfer window in August that Hearts may be able to do a deal.
Teplice had signed striker Martin Jindracek but a subsequent deal taking Vanecek to Tynecastle did not materialise.
With Kyle Lafferty having left the club for Rangers and Aidan Keena sent on loan to Dunfermline, Craig Levein was left with Steven MacLean, Stevem Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu as strikers, while Craig Wighton was another attacking option.
Come January, Hearts will be looking for Vanecek to come in and hit the ground running. With the winter break in January it offers him the chance to work with his new colleagues and get a better understanding of how the team operates and Scottish football in general.
The good news for Craig Levein is that the player has been featuring regularly for Teplice. Vanecek has played ten of the club’s 11 fixtures, starting on nine occasions.
The club sit 13th in the 16-team Czech First League and the striker’s goals have been crucial in keeping the club off the bottom of the table.
His five strikes so far have been worth three points and they display the qualities he will bring to Hearts.
Clearly a physical presence, his double in a 2-2 draw with Slovan Liberec showed just that.
For the first he held off the close attentions of a defender to direct a cross into the back of the net before he doubled his tally by collecting the ball in the box with his back to goal, protecting it from a defender then clipping past the goalkeeper.
The previous week he had netted a brace in a 5-2 win over Dukla Prage. Both goals owed more to his finishing ability. Vanecek opened the scoring by shrugging off a defender at the edge of the box before meeting a cross on the half-volley and thundering an effort into the top corner.
His second was more straightforward: right place, right time, he steered a centre into the goal with confidence.
Having netted four times in the first three games the goals have dried up for the player and the team. Only four goals have been scored in the last eight league games as Teplice are one of the least adventurous and creative teams in the Czech league.
His fifth goal came in a 2-1 win; movement in the six yard box created the space to give him an easy tap-in.
Vanecek won’t come in and replicate what Ikpeazu brings to the side. He is a prolific dribbler, wins plenty of fouls and offers a mobile threat. The Czech forward is a more static focal point with both players not overly involved in passing moves, both average less than 14 passes per game in the league this season.
The player is keen to get to Tynecastle, he tried to push through a move in the summer, and now fans are desperate for his arrival. He may not replace Ikpeazu but most importantly he will provide the club more firepower and give Craig Levein more options.
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