Hibs win three-month chase for Niklas Gunnarsson

Niklas Gunnarsson can  play anywhere  along the back line. Pic: Telemarksavisa
Niklas Gunnarsson can play anywhere along the back line. Pic: Telemarksavisa
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Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has revealed he’s been on the trail of his latest signing, Norwegian defender Niklas Gunnarsson, for the past three months.

The 24-year-old was poised to put the finishing touches to a deal today which will see him arrive at Easter Road on loan until the end of the season with the Capital club enjoying the option of making it a permanent move should he impress.

Gunnarson, who has been capped at Under-23 level by Norway, signed a three-year deal with Oslo-based Valerenga in January 2014 but lately has been on loan with Swedish outfit Elfsborg, during which he has been closely monitored by Hibs.

Graeme Mathie, the Edinburgh club’s head of player identification and recruitment has been in constant dialogue with Valerenga but it’s only in the past three weeks the prospect of Gunnarsson joining Hibs has come to fruition with the player arriving in the Capital on Sunday.

“We are close, very close,” Stubbs told the Evening News, “We are, I would say, 99 per cent done. We’ve been tracking Niklas for a while now, for at least the last three months but, over the last three weeks, we’ve been in the position to do something and I’m delighted.

“Niklas came in on Sunday to have a look around and was very impressed by everything and he’s now looking forward to getting going and competing for a place.”

Gunnarsson, who is 6ft 2in, can operate anywhere along the back line although he is predominantly a centre back or right back. Stubbs said: “He’s a big lad. There’s a really good shape about him. He’s athletic and the fact he can play across the back line is an added bonus. He’s comfortable on the ball, good in one-on-one situations and athletic. He fits the bill of what we are looking to bring to the football club.”

Gunnarsson joins striker Chris Dagnall as Stubbs kept his promise to make his moves for new signings early in the transfer window, the former Leyton Orient player’s registration with the SFA having been completed after a hitch in the paperwork as he moved from Indian club Kerala Blasters prevented him being part of the squad for the weekend win over Raith Rovers.

However, Stubbs anticipates both new arrivals being available on Saturday when Hibs cross the Forth to face Raith again in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

He said: “As long as there’s no spanner in the works, and I don’t see any problems in registering Niklas, then they’ll both be in contention. We had two targets we wanted, a striker and a defender, and we’ve been able to bring both in. I’m very thankful to everybody at the club for allowing me to do that.”

Asked if that would be an end to his January dealings, Stubbs said: “There’s still 27 days to go, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”