Hearts stole the spotlight in Scotland on transfer deadline day when as well as confirming the expected signing of international midfielder Don Cowie, they agreed a loan deal for 27-year-old striker Abiola Dauda from Vitesse Arnhem before prising John Souttar from Dundee United.
Dauda is expected to replace Osman Sow, who is understood to be on the verge of a £1 million-plus move to Henan Jianye in China, where the transfer deadline is not until later this month.
The news regarding Sow was the first hint that yesterday was going to be an eventful one for Hearts, who late last night tied up the signing of the versatile 19-year-old Souttar from United on a three-and-a-half year contract after the clubs agreed a fee understood to be in the region of £150,000.
Dauda, who has signed until the end of the season, grew up in Nigeria but has Swedish citizenship. Before moving to Vitesse Arnhem he was at Red Star Belgrade, where he scored 15 goals in 31 appearances. His Swedish citizenship arises from spells at Solvesborgs GoIF and Kalmar FF, during a six-year spell in the country.
“I’m really happy to have signed, it’s been a long day but this has been worth waiting for,” Dauda said last night.
“I’ve had a great welcome here. I spoke with Robbie [Neilson] on the phone and he told me he has followed me for quite a while now, and as a player it is a dream to hear a coach say that.
“Now I have to go on the pitch and show him he made the right decision. I’m really looking forward to meeting my team-mates and learning the team’s style of play.”
On a busy day at Tynecastle, Sow was in in the process of finalising a remarkable £1m-plus transfer to Henan Jianye, the same Chinese Superleague club who signed former Hearts player Ryan McGowan from Dundee United last month.
A deal for Hearts defender Jordan McGhee to move on to English Championship club Middlesbrough fell through at the final hour, but there were no such snags for midfielder Morgaro Gomis, who has worn the captain’s armband several times this season, as he left to join Motherwell on loan until the end of the season.
Danny Swanson, who joined the club in September in a move originally meant to be until the end of the season, has left the club by mutual consent after making only nine appearances. But it was the late-night negotiations involving the highly-rated Souttar that raised most interest among Hearts fans. As recently as last month Dundee United manager Mixu Paatelainen stressed the player, who has been linked with Celtic in the past, was going nowhere. “The player wants to stay and the club want him to stay,” said Paatelainen, adding it was only a matter of time before Souttar signed a new deal with the Tannadice club.
However, United, who are 11 points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership, have been persuaded to sell him.
The player made his debut at only 16 at right-back in a game against Aberdeen, when Peter Houston was manager at Tannadice. He has played more than 70 times for United, more recently in centre midfield. He can also play in central defence.
Souttar came on as a first-half replacement for Guy Demel in United’s last game, a 5-1 league win over Kilmarnock and was an unused substitute in their Scottish Cup fourth-round victory over Airdrie.
Cowie could make his debut in Sunday’s hugely-anticipated televised fifth round clash with Hibs at Tynecastle. Cowie, who has ten caps for Scotland, the majority earned under Tynecastle director of football Craig Levein, has agreed an 18-month deal after being released by Wigan Athletic.
“I’m absolutely over the moon” said the 32-year-old. “As soon as I heard that Hearts were interested it was the only team that I wanted to sign for. It’s very exciting times at the club right now and I’m delighted to be a part of that.”
“There’s a lot of young players here and hopefully, with my experience, I can help them along their way and show the path for them. Even though I was down south, looking from afar, it was clear to see last season there were a lot of good young players and they’ve stepped up to the Premiership this year very well.
“If I can aid them in any way possible that will be great,” he added. “I’m ready, I’m fit and raring to go. I’ve had a wee glimpse to see what the upcoming fixtures are and it’s pretty interesting. It’s the derby on Sunday, so hopefully I can get a good week’s training under my belt and, you never know, maybe appear on Sunday. It’s a great club, it’s very exciting. This year they’ve stepped up and are doing very well.”
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