AS the fastest player in Hearts’ recent history, Osman Sow seems in no great hurry to sign a new contract.
He will decide in his own time whether to pledge his long-term future to Tynecastle. Head coach Robbie Neilson, though, is keen to get a deal done to keep a player whose pace is a major asset in his team’s attack.
Sow’s timings confirm he is the fastest Hearts player since the club began recording such data 12 years ago. Those in attendance at Pittodrie last weekend won’t be too surprised by that after watching him race clear of Graeme Shinnie almost effortlessly during one first-half attack.
It is the kind of speed which would appeal to clubs in England looking for a pacy striker with a physical presence plus an eye for goals and assists. However, Sow is a key component of a Hearts team which is striving to qualify for Europe in their first season back in the Scottish Premiership. Neilson, understandably, wants to keep that team together.
“Osman is the fastest player we’ve ever had. I don’t know what his 100 metres is but he’s the fastest one we’ve had ever,” he explained. “We’ve done testing. His father, I think, was a 100 metre runner. He can shift and he’s learning how to use it.
“We’ve got testing measures that he runs past a line and that tells you. We’ve been doing it for 12 years now. I don’t know who would be closest to him. It’s only split seconds. We’ll see how it goes in January and hopefully we can get something done [with regards a new deal].”
Even if Sow doesn’t commit to a new contract, it is highly unlikely Hearts would try to cash in on him by selling him during the January transfer window. “It’s something we’ll have to look at but probably not, no,” said Neilson.
“I don’t think so, unless something came in that we thought was right for the club. He doesn’t need to go. I’m happy where Os is at the moment, sometimes you get boys that push for moves and be awkward but Os is a great kid, a great guy. He just wants to play football.
“It is a big stage of his career. He’s a good player and there is definitely going to be interest in him. I actually thought there might have been some in the summer because he had scored a lot of goals. Maybe the one issue was that he hadn’t done it in the top flight. But he’s come up and scored goals, played well. So there is going to be interest.
“He’s a player we’ve started speaking to and we want to do something. But, with football at the moment, it’s down to the player and what he wants to do. He’s been fantastic for us, he’s a great guy, and he’s one of these boys who doesn’t take a lot to do with his contract. He’s got an agent who looks after him, so he just concentrates on his football.
“You can see yourself what a good player he is. He’s got everything really – power, pace, physicality and mentality, as well. It’s all there. It’s just been about putting it all together for him.”
It is interesting to note that Sow has never before played longer than one season at any club. He has enjoyed spells in his native Sweden, Moldova and England, but continuity was missing from his CV until he arrived in Edinburgh in July 2014.
“I think he’s settled here,” said Neilson. “I think the summer there, when he stayed with us, that was the first time he’d ever stayed with the same team for a pre-season. You know, he’s 25 and he’d always been a year somewhere, six months somewhere else, then moved on. He wanted to stay, he wanted to get a bit of continuity in his football and I think it’s benefited him this season.
“Hopefully he looks at that side of things too, because he’s stable in Edinburgh, he enjoys it, he knows all the players. He doesn’t have that bedding-in period to go through again. I hope that other players having signed also plays a part. I hope so. But it will come down to Osman and what he wants to do.
“I think staying here allows him to develop. He’ll get more game time, score more goals, then go to an even higher level than he would at the moment. I think he’s got real potential to go to a very high level in football. At the moment, it depends what clubs are in for him and what level they’re at. He’s got to make a decision.”