HIBERNIAN have signed Chelsea’s Islam Feruz and fellow striker Henri Anier from Dundee United on a season-long loan. The deals are intended to address the issue of breaking down stubborn opponents and provide greater strength in depth as the Easter Road side crank up their Championship title bid.
The Feruz agreement remains subject to international clearance but, if processed, it will give the former Celtic youth player the chance to get some first-team football under his belt after a flurry of failed loan spells.
Having made the move from Celtic to Stamford Bridge in late 2011, the Somalian-born Scotland under-21 star scored twice in a triumphant 2012 FA Youth Cup final. At that time, his prodigious talent seemed set to elevate him into the first-team squad and he duly made his debut in a pre-season friendly in July 2013. However, the teenage striker returned to the London club’s development ranks and, although he signed a new contract last year, he has been unable to gain further first-team experience.
A deal had been struck last term that would have given him a season with Russian second division side Krylia Sovetov but he only lasted 24 hours. A subsequent agreement, designed to give him experience with Greek top-flight side OFI Crete, also turned sour and he only played one game. That was followed by an unsuccessful training stint with Cardiff City and when he moved to Blackpool he was sent packing after two brief substitute appearances.
But he has recently spoken of making up for mistakes, working hard and getting fit in a bid to get his career back on track.
Due to turn 20 at the end of the month, he has greeted the move to Easter Road with delight. Speaking to the Hibs website as he added to Alan Stubbs’ summer player haul, he said: “I am excited to be coming back to Scotland to get some first-team football under my belt. Hibs have a good young team and I’ve played with a number of the boys before with the national team. The manager has shown faith in me and I’m looking forward to repaying it by giving 100 per cent when I’m selected.”
Hibs head coach Stubbs said: “I am delighted that we have managed to secure Islam on loan. He is another really exciting young talent, a player who has fantastic ability and potential. He will add a different dimension to the options that we currently have.
“We would like to thank Chelsea for allowing Islam to join us on loan and we are looking forward to helping him realise his undoubted potential.”
On a busy final day of transfer activity, the signing of the Scottish youth international was followed by the arrival of another loan acquisition with Anier agreeing to swap Tannadice for Edinburgh in a bid to help Stubbs and his players secure promotion by the end of the season.
The 24-year-old is currently on international duty with Estonia but brings top-flight awareness of the Scottish game, having previously helped Motherwell to second place in the Premier League in 2013-14, scoring nine goals to gift the Fir Park side a shot at European football.
Capped 22 times for his country, the striker joined United from German side Erzgebirge Aue at the start of this year but he has scored just once in his 17 appearances for the Tayside club and hasn’t featured in manager Jackie McNamara’s teams at all this season.
But Stubbs, who already had half a dozen striking options at his disposal, believes he has the credentials to bolster his attack. “Henri will bring something different to our attacking options,” he said. “He is a powerful centre forward who will bring others in to play and complement the qualities of our other strikers. He knows the Scottish game and will hit the ground running here. We now have strong competition for places within the team and that will bring out the best in the players that are already here.”