Hibs loan Elias Melkersen to Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam - and slap £1m price tag on Norwegian striker
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Should the Eredivisie side want to make the move permanent in the summer they will have to shell out a seven-figure fee for the 20-year-old, with Hibs likely to benefit from a sell-on clause as well. It is understood that the player was keen to make the move to Rotterdam, where he will join up with compatriots Joshua Kitolano and Tobias Lauritsen at Het Kasteel. Sparta currently sit sixth in the Dutch top flight, five points off second-placed AZ Alkmaar.
He told his new club’s website: “It is widely known that the Dutch league is a good one for young players. Joshua said Sparta is a good place for youngsters too. The club has been in good shape so far this season, and I hope I can contribute to continuing to achieve good results.”
Technical Director Gerard Nijkamp added: “After the departure of Mario Engels, we were looking for the same type of player: an attacker with speed who can also play on the side. Elias appeared on our radar during this search and was able to convince us of his qualities. He is a talented attacker, who has previously played with Joshua Kitolano for Norway under-20s. We are happy to add him to our squad.”
Melkersen’s departure leaves Hibs with just Kevin Nisbet, Élie Youan, and Harry McKirdy as fit striker options with Mykola Kukharevych sidelined for six to eight weeks with a medial ligament issue, although Hibs manager Lee Johnson has dropped hints about recruiting a new forward.
The Easter Road boss added: “Elias is a player who has all the attributes to be a top number nine. Given the return of Kevin Nisbet, we believe now is the time for Elias to get regular starts to implement all the hard work he’s put into training. In Sparta Rotterdam, he has a club and therefore a vehicle to get regular starts to showcase his talents.”
Melkersen last completed a full 90 minutes for Hibs in the 1-0 defeat by Kilmarnock in November, just before the World Cup break, and has only featured off the bench since then in four games, remaining an unused substitute in two others. He has played 29 times for Hibs since joining from Bodø/Glimt 12 months ago, scoring three times but failing to find the net in a league game.
He could make his debut for Sparta this weekend when they travel to face basement side Cambuur Leeuwarden. He is the seventh player to leave Hibs this window after João Baldé joined Arbroath, Jack Brydon and Kevin Dąbrowski moved to Queen of the South on a permanent and loan deal respectively, Momodou Bojang’s loan deal from Rainbow FC was cut short, Stevie Bradley signed for Livingston, and Nohan Kenneh joined Ross County on a loan deal until the summer.
Speaking after Saturday’s draw with Dundee United, Johnson said: “In terms of new signings, we are trying. I’m very clear in my mind as to what I would like defensively and offensively.”
Meanwhile, there is still interest in midfielder Jake Doyle-Hayes from Bristol Rovers and clubs abroad, but Hibs are yet to receive any new offers for the Irishman.