Hibs deadline day state of play: Done deals, what could still happen, what the team needs
January, we are told, is a difficult month to be wheeling and dealing in the football transfer market.
Juggling the need to bring in the right combination of players and move on those who want a new challenge or more regular game time as well as training, preparing for matches, and playing matches, can be a struggle.
Hibs have brought in five new faces this month – seven if you include Chris Mueller and Dylan Tait – with Norwegian prospect Runar Hauge set to become the eighth.
The end of the transfer window is in sight but could there yet be movement at Easter Road?
Hibs were busy in the early stages of the window, bringing in Harry Clarke, Ewan Henderson, and Elias Melkersen. A defender, a midfielder, and a forward; all versatile.
Clarke had impressed for Ross County on loan from Arsenal; Henderson was struggling for game time at Celtic and follows a similar path to brother Liam, while Melkersen is viewed as a raw Nordic talent who is more of a long-term project.
Rocky Bushiri followed a few days afterwards as Hibs finally – finally – brought in centre-back cover. Clarke, although capable of playing in the middle, sees himself as more of a full-back / wingback so there was still a need for an out-and-out centre-half. Enter Belgian-raised, Norwich City defender Rocky.
Demetri Mitchell then arrived on a two-and-a-half year deal from Blackpool, making his debut as a substitute in the goalless draw at Motherwell on Wednesday night.
Joining them at long last is American attacker Mueller, and to a certain extent Tait, who, although signed in the summer, remained at Raith Rovers on loan before returning to East Mains and being sent on loan again.
Midfielder Joao Balde, 20 has joined the development squad from Civil Service Strollers and been and back to the Lowland League club.
Eighteen-year-old goalkeeper Tom Carter has signed, initially on a six-month contract, from English Northern Premier League side Soham Town Rangers.
Martin Boyle – Al-Faisaly, permanent. The full impact of his departure is yet to be felt but Hibs have looked worryingly toothless in the final third since his departure. His presence both on the park and in the dressing room will be hard to replace but you can be sure Hibs will give it a good go.
Melker Hallberg has also departed, joining St Johnstone on an 18-month deal after his Easter Road contract was torn up. The Swede sustained a nasty knee injury during pre-season that ruled him out until virtually the end of 2021. With Hibs well stocked in midfield an exit looked inevitable even when he was a surprise starter against Cove Rangers, albeit at centre-back.
Another permanent exit was Jamie Gullan, who returned to former loan club Raith Rovers on a permanent deal. The forward thrived during his previous stints at Kirkcaldy and should strengthen John McGlynn’s attacking options.
Dan Mackay and Dylan Tait have both joined Kilmarnock on loan while Jack Brydon is spending the second half of the campaign at Edinburgh City after a successful loan stint with Civil Service Strollers. Innes Murray is also seeing out the season on loan at the Citizens.
Still looking for…
A forward, particularly the kind that can score goals. Regularly. Alternatively, an attacking midfielder who can provide ammunition for the forwards already at the club. Hibs have looked ponderous in the final third since Boyle’s departure and need to quickly identify how they can cope with his loss.
There are goalscorers in the Hibs squad – Christian Doidge, Kevin Nisbet, Jamie Murphy, and Kyle Magennis have all found the net so far this season while it will be hoped that Chris Mueller and Ewan Henderson will be able to help out as well. Magennis returning from injury should help but there’s something not quite clicking in front of goal and the sooner Hibs can sort that the better.
There’s also a wee question about whether Hibs have the right balance in the middle of the park. Many supporters view Jake Doyle-Hayes and Joe Newell as too similar and if Alex Gogic isn’t fancied, and Hallberg’s already away, there may be room for a different type of central midfielder in there – but the smart money would be on a player with similar qualities to Boyle.
Alex Gogic and Sean Mackie have both been linked with moves away, while there is doubt over Scott Allan’s future at Easter Road amid links with Kilmarnock and, before that, Dundee and St Mirren. Allan was in the squad for the Motherwell game but didn't get off the bench, while there is always the chance that there could be late bids for players before the deadline.
Rumour has it
There haven’t been too many rumours kicking about recently, probably because Hibs got so much of their business done early on in the window. Jamie McGrath is not a target under the current regime and any links with Ross County’s Regan Charles-Cook, out of contract in the summer, appear to be fan-led on social media.
Beyond that, it’s all gone a bit quiet on the rumours front.
Hibs have quite a few individuals on contracts ending in the summer. There were a raft of new deals agreed in November last year including Josh Doig and Joe Newell but Shaun Maloney may well be waiting to see more of the out-of-contract players before deciding how he proceeds.
Those still at Easter Road but with their deals expiring at the end of the season, at the time of writing, are Scott Allan, Alex Gogic, Sean Mackie, Paul McGinn, Jamie Murphy, and Drey Wright. Rocky Bushiri’s loan deal is up in the summer but he could well be staying at Hibs on a permanent basis with a fee agreed for a permanent transfer. See also Ewan Henderson.