What Hibs are getting in new signing Josh Vela

Hibs have completed their seventh signing of the summer with former Bolton midfielder Josh Vela joining the Capital club. Patrick McPartlin looks at what the Easter Road side are getting...

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 6:27 pm
Josh Vela is an all-action midfielder who, by his own admission, has come to push Hibs on
Josh Vela is an all-action midfielder who, by his own admission, has come to push Hibs on

A man in demand

The name might not be too familiar to those focused on Scottish football, but Josh Vela has been going about his business in the middle of the park for Bolton to the extent that Hull City were linked with the No.6 as recently as last month.

Vela brought the curtain down on a staggering 17 years with the Trotters when he decided not to renew his contract at the troubled Greater Manchester club, and the Tigers were keen on acquiring his services.

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Around 12 months ago, he was being touted for a £5 million move to Blackburn Rovers, when it looked as though the talismanic Bradley Dack was on his way out of Ewood Park.

Brighton, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday were reportedly keen on Vela, while Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds were also credited with an interest in the midfielder, who has put pen to paper on a three-year deal with Hibs. The player himself more recently denied reports of a move to ambitious hometown club and EFL debutants Salford City.

Mr Versatile

Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom likes his players to be versatile and able to play in more than one position.

The 25-year-old Vela is ostensibly a defensive midfielder but he operated in a more attacking role during the 2016/17 season and hit nine league goals as Bolton won promotion to the Championship.

On top of that, he was deployed as an auxiliary forward in two matches during the 2017/18 season, and has played several games at right-back, mostly under former Trotters and ex-Hibs boss Neil Lennon.

However, with the summer exits of Marvin Bartley and Mark Milligan, Hibs were in dire need of defensive midfielders.

Vela will more often than not be protecting the back four but his ability to play in more than one position will ease the strain in case of injury crises or suspension throughout the season.

Finally, a defensive midfielder

Vela's versatility will be a boon but he has been signed to play the holding role; an old-fashioned No.6 protecting the back line.

Tackling is one of his strong points - in his own words: "I like to get on the ball, to make things happen and I’m not afraid to get stuck in. I don’t mind a tackle."

His arrival comes after the tug-of-war between Aberdeen and Hibs for Scunthorpe's Funso Ojo, so there may well be additional pressure on Vela to hit the ground running.

However, the Salford-born player is no stranger to Scottish football, telling Hibs' official website: "I’ve seen Scottish football on television for years.

"Coming here to play in some big games was a real incentive.

"From the people I spoke to and what I know from doing some homework of my own, Hibs seem to be a club on the up who are doing things the right way. I want to be part of that."

Ambition

In his first interview as a Hibs player, Vela stated that he had "come to push Hibs on."

He told the club's official website: "I fancied a change, in a new environment. Last season at Bolton wasn’t great on a personal level and the problems there have been well documented.

"I hope there are better times ahead because the club means a lot to me.

"My agent mentioned Hibs had been really persistent, which is what you want to hear as a player, to feel wanted.

"When I did my homework it all looked good, so here I am. I want to get back to my best and, ultimately, I’ve come here to push Hibs on."

Revealing in-depth talks with Heckingbottom, Vela added: "We had a really good chat and it made a big impression on me.

"He went into real detail about what he wants – from me as a person and a player – and how he thinks I can deliver on those specifics. I’ve not seen that before.

"From the people I spoke to and what I know from doing some homework of my own, Hibs seem to be a club on the up who are doing things the right way. I want to be part of that."