Hibs boss reveals loan stars won’t be coming back
Paul Heckingbottom has admitted Hibs have been the victims of their own success, priced out of the market for striker Marc McNulty and Belgian midfielder Stephane Omeonga after putting them in the shop window.
The pair impressed as they spent the second half of last season on loan at Easter Road, McNulty’s goals earning him his first Scotland caps while Omeonga was called into his nation’s Under-21 squad for this summer’s European Championships. But both have returned to their parent clubs, Reading and Serie A outfit Genoa respectively, and although neither appears to have a future there, Heckingbottom, inset, revealed the chances of one or other – or even both – returning to Edinburgh appears remote even although they have indicated a willingness to do so.
Having made Bolton Wanderers midfielder Josh Vela his seventh signing, Heckingbottom conceded his transfer business was “more or less” done while insisting Hibs would be ready to react should circumstances dramatically change. He said: “We got Marc and Stephane on loan last year and we do not have the same deal in front of us, so it’s difficult. We have been priced out of deals for those players.
“Stephane’s club are getting offers more than we could match, loan and permanent. Stephane is still keen to come here and we were keen to get him. But it’s too big a gap. We’ve been a victim of our own success with those two. If they had come here and been garbage, we could have afforded them. But they came in, did great and made it really difficult for us to get them.”
Heckingbottom insisted Hibs had waited as long as possible to try to conclude deals for McNulty and Omeonga and had kept in contact with both throughout but conceded the club and players had to act in their own best interests.
He said: “If our financial situation suddenly changes, who knows? But we have had to be honest with the guys as well so they know where they stand.
“We could be having a press conference in two weeks because something unforeseen has happened. All of a sudden we may have brought in some money elsewhere and got a chance to do it. We have had to plan around it, but we have to look after ourselves. We can’t go chasing something that has ten per cent chance of happening.
“We need to make sure we look after ourselves and build a squad here. The guys have been kept in the loop all the way. Likewise, they have to look after themselves and their families. Football-wise, they would have loved to have come back.”
Meanwhile, Heckingbottom revealed Vela had “got sick of waiting” on an English Championship club as he decided to commit himself to a three year deal in the Capital. He said: “We had no issues with Bolton, he was leaving anyway.
“Our issues were with the other potential offers that he had and in particular he was waiting for one Championship club. He got sick of waiting, which was great for us, because we were the top team in his options.
“I’ve had my eye on him for a few years. I have seen him play in various positions in midfield. He is an energetic player who gets about the pitch and can handle the ball well. He likes to support the attack and has an aggression that I like to see.
“He’s good at winning the ball back. He will fit in to exactly what we need, he has a different dimension and he will be an important player for us.”