Hearts switch striker targets after being priced out of move for Everton's Ellis Simms
Hearts are reassessing their strike options now that they have been priced out of the chase to secure Ellis Simms’ services next term, switching attention elsewhere as they work to bolster their goal-scoring threat.
The Everton striker spent a fruitful five months on loan at the Scottish Premiership outfit, netting seven goals in 20 appearances, and the Gorgie club had made it clear that they were keen to repeat the arrangement this term.
Quietly confident that they were in contention, they were disappointed to learn that the Toffees have now decided to sell the player rather than loan him out.
With a £500,000 price tag, there are a number of interested parties and while Hearts may have been able to stump up the transfer fee, they are unwilling to blow apart their wage structure to bring in a player who is currently on around £15,000 a week. And, with Simms looking likely to make the move to the cash-rich English Championship, Hearts will now seek out alternatives – either loanees or permanent signings.
Manager Robbie Neilson has made no secret of his desire to bring in more strikers and had pinpointed Simms’ recall as well as a new signing as the club strives to pull together a squad capable of competing on the European stage, while maintaining and even improving on last season’s domestic achievements.
While Simms is no longer part of the equation, the club is still set on reinforcing the strike department ahead of the new season, which will begin in earnest on July 30, when they open the Premiership campaign against Ross County.
That could still mean two fresh additions, with former Dundee United striker Lawrence Shankland – now in Belgium with Beerschot – linked with a move to Hearts already during this transfer window.
Liam Boyce was the club’s top scorer as the club finished third in the Premiership and reached the Scottish Cup final but there were goals throughout the team, with defender Stephen Kingsley and Simms the most prolific of the rest, with their seven goals apiece.
But Neilson wants added competition in that domain and at least one new striker to be closing in on the numbers rattled off by the Northern Irish frontman, who was said to be interesting both Aberdeen and Ipswich Town earlier in the transfer window but has stated his desire to remain in the capital.