After just three games for Hearts, Joaquim Adao is considering asking parent club Sion to convert his loan deal into a permanent transfer.
The Angolan midfielder is thriving in Scotland and could petition Sion officials for a longer stay if his family agree.
Adao will be joined in Edinburgh by his wife and two children early next month, with his loan agreement ending in May. He is then contractually obliged to return to Switzerland for the remaining two years of his contract.
The 25-year-old feels his combative style is ideally suited to Scottish football. Three yellow cards in three appearances prove he is adept at the typically British act of “getting in about it”. He likes the mountainous surroundings and even the cold weather here, and has already proven an asset to the Hearts midfield.
The loan agreement between Sion and Hearts does not include a signing clause but Adao – a product of the Swiss club’s youth academy – is confident he could negotiate an amicable exit given his history there. Much would depend on Hearts’ wishes and finances, however the player is certainly open to the idea.
“If I can stay, why not? I am alone now because I am waiting for my family. They will come in two weeks. If my family like Scotland and like the area, I think I can stay for a longer time,” he tells the Evening News. “I want to win something in Scotland. I don’t want to just play here for a few months and then go back to Switzerland with nothing. I want to win.
“I don’t have an option in the loan. I have two years more on my contract with Sion and I am on loan only for four months. We will see what happens. Football is not easy but, if I have the chance to come back here, then why not? I am enjoying Edinburgh and I am enjoying Hearts.
“I have a good relationship with Sion. I was a young player there and I have been with the club for more than eight years. The president [Swiss architect Christian Constantin] is like my father. If I speak and say, ‘I want to go,’ I think Sion can make it possible. They would not want to block me.”
Constantin gave Adao the choice of three clubs last month when the player made clear his need for a loan to play more regularly. Two Italian teams were ready and waiting, but Adao chose Tynecastle. The reason was a personal touch from the Hearts manager Craig Levein.
“I had three propositions in the transfer window – two in Italy and one in Scotland,” says Adao. “It was Cremonese and another team in Serie B. Sion said you can go to Italy or Scotland. I said: ‘I am going to Scotland.’ The life here is good. It’s a country the same as Switzerland – so much mountains and it’s cold. I like that. I think Scotland is the better choice for me.
“I came here to play and I like that the manager contacted me direct. It was not like the sporting director or something like this. The manager said to me I would come here to play. I have a good feeling here.”
He also has a good chance of incurring a suspension before the season is out. Six Premiership yellow cards trigger an automatic one-game ban and Adao already has two in the league and one in the Scottish Cup.
“I like the football here. It’s similar to me. I play with a Scottish style with lots of tackles. I have played three games and I got three yellow cards. I think it’s good,” he laughs. “I am not 100 per cent yet but game after game I will become better. After the last game against St Johnstone, I said I would not get a yellow in the next game at Ross County but it still happened. I don’t want to get a yellow card in every game but that’s my character, you know.”
Physicality is a key part of his make-up. His broad shoulders and athletic frame make for the kind of solid specialist holding midfielder Hearts needed. Adao is also very capable on the ball having won 11 international caps for Angola to date. Playing in Scotland allows him to express both sides of his footballing nature. He wins challenges, breaks up play, passes crisply and, as witnessed against Ross County on Saturday, can unleash a dangerous shot when he steps forward.
“I like the intensity here. You can play against St Johnstone or Ross County or anyone, but every team plays hard. I like this. If you make a good tackle, everybody shouts for you. You see the people love football and that’s why I like this country.
“From what I have seen in my three games, I think Hearts have very good fans. When I go out into the city I see fans from Hearts who say, ‘you had a good game’ or ‘good luck for the next game’. It helps you to know the fans believe in you. If you win, the fans are with you. If you lose and the fans are still with you, that is important.
“It was a very physical game on Saturday. Ross County are not a bad team and when you play the bottom club in the league it is always more physical. You need to play with the body and the head.
“This week we go to Rangers and this is a very good game to play in. If you come to Scotland, you want to play against Celtic and Rangers. I think this is the game to show people your level and show what you can do.”