Hibs transfers: Kevin Nisbet bid 'accepted' as Millwall prepare to pay club-record fee
Hibs have a huge void to fill in attack before the transfer window closes at midnight on Tuesday, with Kevin Nisbet’s move to Millwall edging ever closer.
Both parties have reportedly agreed a fee of £2 million plus add-ons which could make the deal worth nearly £2.5m, a Millwall club record. A sell-on clause means Dunfermline Athletic will be entitled to a 30% slice of the upfront fee.
Nisbet is expected to undergo a medical and finalise personal terms at the New Den in the next 48 hours before completing a lucrative personal move to the EFL Championship club, who are eighth in the table and chasing a play-off spot for a shot at promotion to the Premier League.
Why Hibs are selling
Hibs had previously rejected an offer of around £1m for the 25-year-old striker, whose contract at Easter Road has another 18 months left to run. But doubling the bid appears to have persuaded chief executive Ben Kensell and owner Ron Gordon to cash in now rather than let Nisbet run down his current deal and potentially leave for free in the summer of 2025.
The club previously turned down a £3m offer from Birmingham City for Nisbet in January 2021 and don’t want to run the risk of having an unhappy player on their hands by denying him a career-changing move again. The deal would also represent a substantial profit on a player who cost £250,000 when he joined from Dunfermline two and a half years ago.
Nisbet’s Hibs record
Nisbet has been in red-hot form since returning from his 10-month injury lay-off after the winter World Cup break, scoring seven goals in seven games. He suffered a torn meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament damage in February last year, but scored in his first match back against Rangers at Ibrox and hasn’t looked back since, bagging a stunning hat-trick against Motherwell.
He joined Hibs from Dunfermline in July 2020 after 23 goals in 32 games for the Fife club and went on to win 10 Scotland caps during his time at Easter Road, finding the net 34 times in 88 appearances. His previous best spell, until now, was under Jack Ross when partnered by Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge in attack.
Millwall boss Gary Rowett has been looking to strengthen his frontline after selling Isaac Olaofe and terminating Benik Afobe’s contract this month and hopes Nisbet can provide the firepower needed to enhance their promotion prospects in the second half of the season. The Lions are only three points off third place in England’s second tier.
Rowett has already signed 19-year-old forward Aidomo Emakhu from Shamrock Rovers during this window and had been considering a loan move for Bologna’s Sydney van Hooijdonk, currently on loan at Dutch club Heerenveen. But Nisbet was Rowett’s top target and the £2.5m deal eclipses Millwall’s previous club record outlay of £1.8 million spent on Zian Flemming last summer.
Flemming is Millwall’s top scorer this season with 10 goals, but the Dutchman is an attacking midfielder and Rowett needs a striker who can score. Tom Bradshaw, the club’s other senior striker, has seven goals from 22 games this season.
Paul Hartley believes Millwall would be a good move for Nisbet, describing he London club as a “bit of a sleeping giant”. The former Hearts and Hibs midfielder, now manager at Cove Rangers, played for the Lions early in his career under Jimmy Nicholl.
“They definitely have the potential to go to the Premier League,” Hartley told the Daily Record. “They have some support. The home support is so vocal and so loud and when things are going well then great. They have a terrific stadium and it is a really good club with a strong team. It’s something Kevin would like to look at.”
Hibs striker options
Nisbet’s imminent departure leaves manager Lee Johnson with a huge gap to fill in attack and little time to do it before the transfer window closes at midnight on Tuesday. Martin Boyle is out for the season with an ACL injury, on-loan Ukrainian targetman Mykola Kukharevych is sidelined until March with a knee injury and both Elias Melkersen and Momodou Bojang have departed this month. It leaves Harry McKirdy as the only senior striker available, unless Elie Youan is moved into a more central role. Youngsters Josh O’Connor and 18-year-old Ethan Laidlaw, who has scored 14 goals in 12 games for the development team, are Johnson's other options.
The manager has problems at the other end of the pitch too. Hibs have accepted an offer from Watford for Ryan Porteous, who is heading south to discuss personal terms. The 23-year-old Scotland centre-back is out of contract this summer and had made it clear he wanted to leave.
With fellow centre-back Rocky Bushiri facing a spell on the sidelines after being stretchered off against Hearts and Portsmouth are thought to be leading the race to sign transfer target Bailey Wright, Johnson is short of options in central defence for the visit of Aberdeen on Saturday. It leaves Paul Hanlon, who has had a hamstring issue, and on-loan Manchester United youngster Will Fish as the only other two centre-backs available for the crunch meeting with the Dons at Easter Road.
Johnson v Goodwin
All eyes will be on that fixture this weekend after Aberdeen announced that Jim Goodwin will be in the dugout at Easter Road, but the under-fire manager has been warned that the club’s board are “seeking an immediate response” following Monday’s embarrassing Scottish Cup exit at the hands of part-time West of Scotland League leaders Darvel.
A statement released by chairman Dave Cormack after a board meeting to discuss the manager’s future read: “From our wider discussions over the last two days, we believe that the senior players and the squad are behind the manager. Combined with our discussions at today's meeting, Jim will be in the dug-out on Saturday.
“However, to be clear, Jim has been left in no doubt that the board and the fans are seeking an immediate response from him and the players.”