Transfer business almost done at Hearts
Jamie Walker completed his return to Tynecastle Park last night, joining centre-back Craig Halkett and striker Conor Washington as new arrivals.
Steven Naismith is expected to follow later in the summer but Levein does not plan any additional signings beyond that at this stage.
He brought in 18 players last year but this time the focus is on recruits of a specific calibre. Finding class rather than just numbers is the plan.
“Absolutely. Last time I was Hearts manager, it took me two full seasons to get into a position where we had our most settled team,” said Levein.
“I now feel much more relaxed and confident that we have the quality of player that will allow us to be more consistent.
“Last season we lacked the ability to change in forward areas. I’m confident that isn’t going to be an issue this season. I’m feeling this is good for us. I’m very, very happy with the business we’ve done.
“I think the football in Scotland is getting better. The better the players, the better the league and I think Conor and Jamie will add to the league. We aren’t going to do an awful lot of business this summer.
“I’m fairly confident we will get Naismith. Halkett I’m really pleased with, he has proven himself in this league. Aidy White is coming on and he will be an addition for us this year.”
Midfielder Arnaud Djoum is out of contract and weighing up his options whilst at the African Cup of Nations with Cameroon. If he decides to move on, Hearts could look for a replacement.
“I’ve still to speak to Arnaud. He is away and that will take care of itself in time,” said Levein. “We lacked attacking options last season. Injuries didn’t help. Now we have more ways of breaking teams down.”
Hearts beat several other clubs to Washington’s signature after he became available for free from Sheffield United. Levein stressed that the 27-year-old represents something of a coup. He holds 20 Northern Ireland caps and is eager to kickstart his career in Scotland.
“It’s a fairly significant signing for us, I believe. The international players we have signed in the past have all done really well. I think this is a bit of a coup and I’m really pleased,” said Levein.
“Conor is good friends with Michael Smith and Austin MacPhee knows him well as well. I don’t think it will take too much time for him to settle in. I’ve been really impressed in the chats we’ve had and with his willingness to get in and get started.
“I love Conor’s energy. He’s got a goal ratio of one in three at a decent level but his energy is fantastic. His speed will also be really helpful for us.
“When you bring new players in, you have to try and find something that will make them impress in this league to have a significant difference when we play other teams. I think Conor has two or three different things which will help us enormously.
“He runs in behind defenders, which not a lot of strikers do these days. He is a decent finisher and he tries his heart out in every match. The supporters of this club love that. They love strikers with energy who will chase, harry and press. I think he can help us enormously.”
Selling Hearts to a player who had interest from several other British clubs was not difficult, according to the manager. “He saw Kyle Lafferty had come here for a season and done really well,” said Levein.
“He knew about the club from speaking to other people. It wasn’t a hard sell. For me, he will be low maintenance and high output which is always the best combination.”