Craig Levein thrilled as Hearts move a big step closer to landing Ryotaro Meshino

Craig Levein is excited by the prospect of adding Ryotaro Meshino to his Hearts team.
Craig Levein is excited by the prospect of adding Ryotaro Meshino to his Hearts team.
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Craig Levein is delighted Hearts have “passed the biggest hurdle” in their quest to sign Ryotaro Meshino after being granted a work permit for the Manchester City midfielder yesterday.

There is still more work to do to ensure the fleet-footed 21-year-old can move to Tynecastle on loan before the close of the transfer window, but Levein is confident that the most complicated part of the process in securing his signature has now been overcome.

“We’ve got the permit which allows us to move on to the next stage,” the manager confirmed to the Evening News. “He needs to apply for a visa and he needs to go back to Osaka to get it. There’s a process we’ll have to go through before he comes over but we’ve passed the biggest hurdle, for sure.

“He’s keen to come here. He had two other clubs in Holland he had spoken to but we’re delighted he’s chosen to come here. But there’s still a bit of work to do.”

Meshino joined City from Gamba Osaka earlier this month, and the English champions are keen to send him out on loan in order to get regular game time and continue his development in a competitive environment. Austin MacPhee’s connection with Northern Ireland and City scout Andy Cousins - allied to the Hearts assistant coach’s ability to speak Japanese - has helped make a deal for Meshino become possible.