Hibs expect to finally clinch a deal to sign Israeli international goalkeeper Ofir Marciano early next week.
The 27-year-old returned to his parent club FC Ashdod following a season on loan at Easter Road, keeping 12 clean sheets in 28 appearances as he helped win the Championship title and a return to Premiership football. But both Marciano and Hibs boss Neil Lennon expressed the desire to strike an agreement allowing the player to return to Scotland on a permanent basis, prompting negotiations between the two clubs which have been ongoing for several weeks.
Marciano, capped 11 times, has a year of his contract with Ashdod to run and his club want a transfer fee to reflect that fact although he spent the previous season also out on loan at Belgian club Royal Excel Mouscon.
Reports in Israel have suggested a fee of ¤150,000 has been agreed with the deal also subject to a sell-on clause but the Evening News understands the final formalities have yet to be concluded. Marciano’s arrival last summer was delayed by red tape hat saw him miss Hibs’ first six matches of the season before he finally made his debut in a 4-0 win over Morton.
However, the Capital club don’t expect any such problems this time with the hope being they will be able to “get things over the line” early next week.
Marciano will return to again be Lennon’s first-choice goalkeeper but he faces competition from Ross Laidlaw, last season’s understudy who played a total of 17 games as Hibs waited for the Israeli to arrive and in two spells when he was ruled out by injury.
Former Raith Rovers goalkeeper Laidlaw, initially signed on a one-year contract, was one of seven out of contract players who quickly agreed new two-year deals while Marciano’s former Ashdod team-mate Efe Ambrose did likewise after spending the final few months of last season on loan from Celtic.