Hibs are optimistic Florian Kamberi will be back at Easter Road next season despite claims he’s set to return to Swiss club Grasshoppers Zurich.
The Edinburgh outfit agreed a transfer fee with a view to a permanent deal with Grasshoppers when the 23-year-old moved to the Capital on loan in January and, the Evening News understands, it is an accord which can’t be broken.
Doubt was cast on Kamberi’s future with Neil Lennon’s side when Grasshoppers sports director Mathias Walther revealed all loan players were being recalled to allow new manager Thorsten Frink to assess them following a disappointing season in which they’d finished eighth in a league of ten clubs.
Kamberi still has a year of his contract with Grasshoppers to run, but had found himself frozen out following a season on loan with German side Karlsruhe. However, after arriving in Edinburgh as an unknown, he’s emerged as a free-scoring striker, netting nine goals in 14 appearances for Hibs as they finished their first season back in the Premiership in fourth place.
Hibs were well aware of Kamberi’s situation at that time and struck a deal which gives them first option on the player, which means that provided they meet the agreed fee – said by Lennon to be “affordable” – then Grasshoppers can’t block his departure.
However, Kamberi won’t become a Hibs player until his own personal terms are agreed, although the News understands talks with him and his agent are at an advanced stage with the Easter Road club quietly confident they’ll land the former Swiss Under-21 hitman.
Lennon has also said he’d like to see Jamie Maclaren, who forged a prolific partnership with Kamberi with the pair scoring 17 goals between them, back in a green-and-white shirt next season, but the Australian striker has two years of his contract with German Bundesliga 2 side Darmstadt still to run.
Maclaren has a clause in his deal which would have released him from it had Darmstadt been relegated to the third tier of German football, a scenario which looked distinctly possible until they saved themselves by winning their final two league games.
The 24-year-old, who missed out on being part of the Socceroos World Cup squad despite claiming a hat-trick in Hibs’ final game of the season against Rangers, has admitted he doesn’t want to return to Germany having seen his move from Australian side Brisbane Roar turn sour and will be telling Darmstadt to listen to offers for him.
But, he revealed, he now fears Darmstadt – where he is said to enjoy “a very good salary” – may now place a hefty price tag on his head following his successful spell at Hibs.