Robbie Neilson explains why Hearts must enjoy Beni Baningime while they can
Robbie Neilson today admitted Hearts must savour Beni Baningime’s midfield dominance as much as possible because other clubs will be taking note of his progress.
The Tynecastle Park manager expects suitors are already watching the Congolese player, who has been outstanding in six appearances for Hearts since joining from Everton in July. He signed a three-year contract after promising sporting director Joe Savage that he would “make this club money”.
Hearts have no intention of selling him and would demand an enormous fee to even consider such a move, but Neilson is realistic about the kind of interest Baningime’s performances are generating.
He advised fans to appreciate the 23-year-old as much as they can after yet another imperious display against Hibs in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.
“Beni has been sensational since day one,” Neilson told the Evening News. “He is just a really good player and I think we need to enjoy him as much as we can because I think there will be a lot of teams looking at Beni at the moment and thinking: ‘Brilliant age, good athleticism, really good on the ball and a great character.’
“We are really pleased with him. He has played against Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and all these teams. Playing against Hibs doesn’t faze him at all.”
Neilson was pleased with his players in the goalless draw against Hibs despite not managing to break the resilience of the Easter Road defence.
Defender Michael Smith was withdrawn midway through the second half having suffered tightness playing for Northern Ireland against Switzerland last week. He will be monitored ahead of Saturday’s trip to Ross County.
“I thought all the players were great for us on Sunday,” stated Neilson. “Michael Smith was carrying a wee knock before the game and we knew we would have to take him off at some point. I thought he had a good game overall.
“Taylor Moore came on and we asked him to go and play right wing-back. He was great as well. Barrie McKay came on and showed his quality and Josh Ginnelly gives you that energy and spark. To a man, I thought our lads were excellent.”