Already looking to bolster their attacking options, news that the Northern Irishman will be sidelined for up to nine months with a cruciate ligament injury has simply focused minds. But they face a fight to land either of their man Premiership targets, with Johnston already in talks to finalise a loan switch to Portugal with Vitoria Guimaraes.
Aggressively chasing another striker and an attacking midfielder, while also trying to land a centre-back, Hearts would ideally have all in the door by the end of today’s transfer deadline day but it is understood that they are also monitoring the free agent market in the hope that they can still strengthen even once the window has closed.
Ramirez, who has scored three goals in five appearances so far this season, having netted 16 times last term, is out of favour at Pittodrie. Having dropped down the pecking order since the arrival of Bojan Miovski, the 31-year-old is said to be keen to find regular first team involvement elsewhere.
With so many games pending he would not be shy of match involvement at Hearts and it is understood that the Tynecastle club and the players representatives are keen to make the move happen but, while Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin has said that he would be willing to let the US striker go, the club are reticent to let him switch to one of their main rivals.
Ramirez would not be a cheap acquisition, with the player on a decent wage at Pittodrie and Aberdeen expecting any loan club to pick up the majority of that tab but his experience would help balance out the youth in Robbie Neilson’s squad, and his knowledge of the Premiership, European ties and his international pedigree would allow him to hit the ground running as games come thick and fast for the Gorgie outfit.
The club have also been linked with a possible loan opportunity for Bournemouth centre-back James Hill but it is understood that while the club see potential in the England Under-21 international they would prefer to go for a more seasoned campaigner to counter the inexperience of Toby Sibbick, Alex Cochrane and Lewis Neilson, who are all aged 23 or under.