Hibs were today poised to complete the signing of former Falkirk striker Farid El Alagui, having beaten off the advances of Scottish Premiership clubs St Johnstone and Dundee.
It is understood the 6ft 1in French Moroccan player has agreed a three-year deal with only the paperwork to be completed before becoming head coach Alan Stubbs’ second capture following the arrival last week of right-back David Gray. El Alagui could make his debut as Hibs face Dunfermline at East End Park tomorrow night.
A lack of goals – just 31 scored in 38 league matches last season – was a major factor in the Easter Road outfit’s relegation to the Championship and beefing up a strikeforce which, at the moment, only boasts Paul Heffernan and teenager Jason Cummings, the subject of two bids from Swansea City, has been an obvious priority for Stubbs.
El Alagui was a free agent, having spent the second half of last season on loan to Dundee United from Brentford, the 28-year-old scoring three goals for the Tannadice side, including the third in a 3-1 win over Hibs at Easter Road.
The Bordeaux-born star, though, will be best remembered for his red-hot scoring record for the Bairns, when he netted 27 goals in 43 appearances in his only season for the club, a record which saw him named PFA First Division player of the year.
Then Brentford boss Uwe Rosler beat St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, several English Championship clubs and a number abroad to sign El Alagui on a two-year contract in the summer of 2012 but only months after that move he suffered a serious knee injury and spent much of the rest of the season on the sidelines.
El Alagui, who began his career in the lower reaches of French football, turned down a loan move to Partick Thistle only to head back to Scotland to join United on a temporary basis.
Stubbs, who has insisted he wants quality rather than quantity as he seeks to rebuild a squad which contained only 14 players on the first day of pre-season training, will add to his backroom staff this week with Andy Holden, whom he worked with at Everton, and goalkeeping coach Alan Combe, both of whom were in the away dug-out for the 4-0 win against Berwick Rangers at the weekend.
Stubbs declared himself satisfied with his team’s performance at Shielfield Park while insisting there is plenty to work on before Hibs’ first competitive match, the Challenge Cup clash with Rangers at Ibrox on August 5.
Having seen his players add to the four goals scored against Vale of Leithen the previous week, Stubbs said: “It was positive again. Scoring goals is great for any team. The boys believe in what we are wanting them to do which is very important. It’s a step in the right direction but obviously there is still a lot of work to do.”