Yutaro Oda completes Hearts move with more signings to follow
Japanese forward Yutaro Oda signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Hearts as the Edinburgh club secured their second new recruit of the winter transfer window.
After signing James Hill on loan from Bournemouth on Monday, 21-year-old Oda arrived from Vissel Kobe to strengthen the forward line at Tynecastle Park. Hearts will pay the Japanese club a six-figure development fee for a player who can play out wide or through the middle.
Oda holds youth international caps for his country and is keen to test himself in Europe. He will be introduced to Scottish football gradually, with Riccarton coaching staff viewing him as a young player with the potential to develop over time in the cinch Premiership.
The forward could make his Hearts debut against St Mirren on Friday evening. He explained why he chose Tynecastle as his new career destination. “I have been looking for a challenge, so this is a great club for me to come to. I am really looking forward to showing the fans what I can do,” he told the club website. “As a player, I see myself as a very speedy and sharp player. I am also good at dribbling and with the ball at my feet.
“When I had my meeting with Hearts, it was clear that they had done their research on me. To me, that shows that they really wanted to sign me, and that they are keen to help me develop further as a player.”
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson explained the club’s development plan for Oda. “I’m really pleased to get Yutaro in as our next signing of this window,” he said. “He’s got a lot of great attributes but the exciting thing is that he’s still young and there will be more to come from him, so we’ve got a huge part to play in developing him.
“He’s very quick, very direct and technically very good. He’ll bring a lot to the team and we’re all looking forward to working with him.”
Sporting director Joe Savage added: “We’ve made no secret of our willingness to focus on markets across the world in an effort to identify talent and value for money.
“In Yutaro, we feel we’ve got both of those things. He is someone we had been looking at for a while and, thankfully, all the pieces fell into place to allow us to bring him to the club.
“I’d like to thank Vissel Kobe for their co-operation, CAA Base and in particular Joel Pannick for helping to get the deal done and, of course, our board for their continued backing and support. Yutaro has all the qualities to be a hit in maroon and I’m sure our fans are looking forward to seeing him light up the Tynecastle pitch.”
With two signings now done, Hearts are working on more despite still being in the early days of the January transfer window. Australian forward Garang Kuol is due to complete a loan move from Newcastle United before the week is out with the move already agreed between both clubs and the player.
Tynecastle officials are also continuing talks aimed at bringing Callum Paterson back to Edinburgh from Sheffield Wednesday. No transfer is agreed at the moment, with the English League One club keen to recruit a replacement if possible before doing a deal to let Paterson leave.