A key meeting at Tynecastle this afternoon will accelerate Hearts’ summer recruitment plans. Owner Ann Budge, director of football Craig Levein and head coach Robbie Neilson will convene after training to discuss reshaping of the first-team squad for next season.
Plans to bring in a striker are near the top of the agenda, although the talks will be wide-ranging. A number of players have already been scouted and today’s meeting will determine which moves should be made and for whom.
Neilson wants to add more quality to his squad and will also allow some players to move on at the end of the season. Hearts begin their European campaign in the first qualifying round of the Europa League on 30 June and must act quickly to secure their signing targets.
“We know the budget and we know what time we are coming back now,” said Neilson. “We have a meeting on Friday to discuss everything and we’ll take it from there. It’s important the quality of the squad goes up when we bring someone in and we will be bringing players in.
“I think the guys who have been here already have proven they can play at the top end of the league and it’s just about trying to add a bit more quality where we need it. I have been looking at it the last few weeks and I’ll go on Friday and have a chat with Ann and Craig and say, ‘this is what I think we need to do’ and we’ll take it from there.”
Rangers’ impending return to the Ladbrokes Premiership will increase competition levels within the league. That is only a good thing in Neilson’s eyes but it also means he must recruit shrewdly. “We know that a team of Rangers’ calibre, the budget they have and the quality of player they want, they’ll be expected to come straight back up and challenge for the title. That makes it more difficult for us but that’s the nature of football in this country. We know we need to recruit well in the summer, we need to prepare properly and we will try and challenge as well.
“For us it’s great and for Scottish football if we can get Rangers and Hibs back up. You want to play in big games and if you are trying to attract players they want to play in big games on TV, in front of full houses at big stadiums. That’s the best for the league, it makes it more competitive. It’s better for me because it makes it a more difficult task and that’s what you want.”
Hearts face Motherwell at Fir Park tomorrow and could come up against their on-loan midfielder Morgaro Gomis. There is no arrangement between the clubs preventing Gomis from playing against Hearts whilst in Lanarkshire.