Hearts expect to receive offers for some of their key players during the January transfer window, with the possibility of further bids next summer. The Edinburgh club are bracing themselves for other clubs trying to tempt prized assets away, so much so that head coach Robbie Neilson is already looking at potential replacements.
Finances are stable at Tynecastle and Neilson has already made it clear he is under no pressure to sell players. Transfers will only be done if the money offered is too good to refuse but management are predicting that bids will be tabled.
The likes of Callum Paterson, Jordan McGhee, Jamie Walker and Sam Nicholson have already attracted attention from England and beyond. Foreign players Igor Rossi, Blazej Augustyn, Miguel Pallardo and Osman Sow are out of contract at the end of the season and would be free to sign a pre-contract with another club in January. Hearts are keen to re-sign all four on longer deals before then and have already made moves to that effect.
Neilson explained that being prepared for the next two transfer windows will be an important part of his job over the coming weeks. “I can bring someone in if I want to. You’re always looking ahead and try to predict who is going to be targeted from your team,” he told the Evening News.
“You need to have an idea of what positions are going to be targeted when other clubs come in to try and take your players. That’s why we go out and target players so that, if somebody goes, we have a list of two or three guys we could go after quickly. It’s important to plan ahead like that. The January window and the summer window next year are the ones when we think there might be offers.”
Hearts recruited several foreign players – including Rossi, Augustyn, Juanma and Juwon Oshaniwa – last summer to complement a young Scottish core. Cameroonian midfielder Arnaud Djoum arrived in September and, when the time comes to make another signing, Neilson expects to go down the same route. He is working to negotiate longer contracts for many of those above.
“It’s getting a blend between the foreign players and the Scottish players. That’s what everyone is trying to do,” he continued. “I think, for us, in a sense the market is outwith Britain. That’s where you get players, give them a platform to come and play, and it’s up to them to do well. If they do, they advance your club but then they move on to bigger and better things.
“It’s a lot harder to go abroad, watch the games and then try to communicate with players you like. Also, a lot of these foreign players have two or three agents and dealing with that side of things can be hard. It’s definitely worth it, though.
“The players we’ve brought in this year are really good players, guys we’ve had to work hard to try and get. We had to convince them to come here and now it’s about trying to convince them to stay. That’s another difficulty we have. When players come here and do so well, then there’s interest in them.”