Taking their shot - Hibs make emotional pitch to loan star duo

Together again? Marcondes and Maolida have been instant hits at Hibs.Together again? Marcondes and Maolida have been instant hits at Hibs.
Together again? Marcondes and Maolida have been instant hits at Hibs. | SNS Group
‘Never say never,’ insists Monty as attacking pair weigh up options

You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take. Not an approach likely to find much favour in this age of xG data and a deeper understanding of what constitutes a low-value attempt on goal.

But in the world of recruitment? What’s the harm in aiming for top bins from 35 yards? That’s how Hibs will approach the feasible, potential, unlikely but not impossible retention of two loan stars guaranteed to receive massive offers once their short stints at Easter Road are just a notch on the CV.

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Nick Montgomery is banking on job satisfaction outweighing cold, hard cash in his attempts to convince both Emi Marcondes and Myziane Maolida to extend their employment with Hibs. That shouldn’t be interpreted as a promise or pledge that either will definitely sign a ‘permanent’ deal once their loan arrangements expire in a few weeks. Behind the optimistic statements, Montgomery is well enough versed in the brutality of market forces to understand that both could easily accept alternative deals valued in the multiples of anything Hibs could offer.

While Marcondes will be a free agent at the end of the current campaign, Maolida – already his temporary team’s top scorer despite only making his debut in late January – is currently being touted around Europe by parent club Hertha Berlin. The Bundesliga 2 club are eager to discard a player with one year left on his contract but are looking for either an outright buyer - or a loan club willing to make a major contribution to salary costs set when Hertha were still in the German top flight.

Montgomery knows Maolida’s success at Hibs might even work AGAINST the Scottish Premiership side, now that the Comoros international – a former 10 million Euro player – is back on the radar of richer clubs following a bleak spell in Berlin, although the gaffer insists: “You never say never. I’ve got a really good relationship with Myz, who is a fantastic human being – and someone who really enjoys playing for the club, as well.

“His situation, we know that we’ve exposed him back into the market. But before he came here, he was pretty much written off by a lot of people.

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“His contract situation means it’s always going to be down to him and his agent. If he can see that Hibs is a real platform to get his career back on track …

“With a good pre-season and the right environment, in a place he enjoys, I think he’s got a high ceiling. And right now he’s loving his football, playing every week. Like with Emi, we’ll have those conversations at the end of the season.”

Maolida and Marcondes both had limited options when Montgomery persuaded them to try their luck in the Scottish Premiership during the winter transfer window, the former Central Coast boss working hard to address any scepticism they might have had over moving to an environment that, ultimately, has provided an ideal platform for their talents. Former Brentford favourite Marcondes, who scored with a screamer of a 30-yard free-kick in the weekend win over St Johnstone, has been able to prove his fitness, for starters.

Addressing his chances of landing an attacking midfielder who has just turned 29, once his Bournemouth contract expires in a matter of weeks, Monty pointed out: “Emi came here after not playing for nine months. So he’s nowhere near the level he can get to. But coming to Hibs has been a real opportunity for him to get playing and get training.

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“We’ve been managing the foot injury since he came back, playing on different surfaces here in Scotland. You play on synthetic pitches, soft pitches, hard pitches, so he’s gone through that period where he’s been managing that.

“But look, Emi is happy. He’s really enjoying his time here. People always think it’s about the money. But, when you get to 28/29 years old and you’ve missed a lot of football, it’s about finding somewhere you feel you belong.

“You want to go somewhere that the fans like you, where you can play in a system and style that you enjoy. I know Emi really enjoys it here, so every conversation I’ve had with him has been really positive.

“So yeah, he was desperate to come and help the team this season. I think you saw the quality of the free-kick on Saturday. I think we’ve only had two free-kicks in central areas since he came – I’m not sure how that happened! But I see those free-kicks every day in training.

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“You can see that he really loves the fans. Those fans have really taken to him. He’s a really intelligent player.

“So the likes of Emi and Myziane, people forget that these are players who weren’t playing, who didn’t really have a home. Coming to Hibs, they’ve found a home and found a supporter base who have really accepted them. And they enjoy playing the way that we play. That’s a big reason for getting players like Emi and Myziane.”