Prince Buaben will leave Hearts next month when his contract expires, manager Craig Levein confirmed today.
The Ghanaian midfielder has spent four years at Tynecastle but is surplus to requirements for next season.
His contract is not being renewed as the club intend to recruit a different type of midfielder. Levein wants to keep the on-loan Sion player Joaquim Adao but, if those negotiations fail, he will look for another holding midfielder in the same mould.
With several teenagers emerging from the Riccarton youth academy and pushing towards the senior squad, Buaben is now faced with the reality of moving on. He joined Hearts as a free agent in July 2014 after leaving Carlisle United and became a central figure in the record-breaking Championship title win that season.
He has made 112 competitive appearances in maroon so far, scoring eight goals, and will remain part of the squad for the final five league games. The 29-year-old will then head for pastures new at the end of the campaign.
“Prince has done really well for us but recently he hasn’t had as much game time,” Levein told the Evening News. “I’ll be looking to bring different types of players in. Joaquim has come in and done a good job, and we need a player like that. If it’s not him, it’s got to be somebody else like him.
“We have a few young lads coming through and there will be stiff competition for places. I just think Prince hasn’t played enough football in the last couple of years to justify renewing his contract, but he’s done a brilliant job for us.” Like Buaben, veteran centre-back Aaron Hughes is also out of contract next month. He is still mulling over his future and whether to play on for another year. The 38-year-old will have the opportunity to stay with Hearts if he decides to prolong his career.