Hearts set to seal Ikpeazu deal as MacLean targets top four

Uche Ikpeazu, left, in action for Cambridge United, is set to sign a pre-contract with Hearts. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Uche Ikpeazu, left, in action for Cambridge United, is set to sign a pre-contract with Hearts. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Steven MacLean has vowed to help Hearts to a top-four finish next season – as the Tynecastle club prepare to unveil striker Uche Ikpeazu as their second new signing in the space of 24 hours.

Ikpeazu, 23, has rejected the offer of fresh terms at Cambridge United to agree to the switch north, with the English League Two side yesterday confirming his summer departure from the club.

It is understood the former Reading and Watford player was due to complete the formalities of his move to Tynecastle in time to be announced on a pre-contract deal today.

Ikpeazu came through the ranks at Reading before joining Watford on a three-year deal in 2013. After loan spells with Crewe Alexandra, Doncaster Rovers, Port Vale and Blackpool, the 6ft 3in marksman joined Cambridge on the two-year agreement that expires at the end of the season. He has caught the eye of Hearts manager Craig Levein with 14 goals in 42 appearances for The U’s this season, netting eight times last term.

Ikpeazu will join MacLean in adding competition in attack for Hearts, who have only Kyle Lafferty under contract for next season.

MacLean was confirmed yesterday as having penned a two-year deal to join from 
St Johnstone in the summer and the 35-year-old has expressed ambitious targets for the club.

The experienced former Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff City and 
Plymouth Argyle forward will be expected to play a mentor’s role to the club’s highly-rated youngsters. However, the Scottish Cup winner with Saints in 2014 is convinced he can still play a major part on the pitch in bringing success to Gorgie.

He said: “I’m delighted to be a Hearts player. I spoke to Craig and once I spoke to him I was delighted to get here and get it over the line.

“I’m just looking forward to next season and hopefully I can come here and help the side, and we can have a successful season. Craig wants me to come in and play and nail down a spot, and then with my experience try to help the younger players as well. Hopefully they can learn from me while I’m playing.

“I want to come here and do well, and hopefully we can finish as high up that league as possible.

“It’s a massive club, it’s one of the biggest clubs in Scotland, so we’ve got to look to put on good performances, and then the top three or the top four is definitely the aim.

“Craig has got big ambitions for the club, so hopefully I’m a part of that.

“Hopefully we can get a good cup run as well. The cup 
competitions are massive – massive for the fans and massive for the players as well, and the club as a whole.

“So, trying to win a trophy would be great, and to finish in the top four would be a 
fantastic season.”