Craig Levein is exploring ways he can hold onto Hearts’ best loan signings as he looks ahead to the new season.
The Tynecastle manager is preparing for a busy summer of transfer activity and revealed he may have to bring in as many as ten new faces as he attempts to find a greater continuity of selection to boost the club’s league standing next term.
But he says he has not given up hope of holding on to the likes of Steven Naismith, Demetri Mitchell and Joaquim Adao, who have made an impact since arriving on loan from Norwich City, Manchester United and FC Sion respectively.
“We started our recruitment process in January so we are well down the road with quite a lot of things,” Levein said. “We know what we need and we are working towards that. It is not a still picture, it is a moving scene, so a snapshot of what we need at one point maybe changes if, for example, Jon [McLaughlin, his goalkeeper] decides to stay or he decides to go. That would mean we have something else to look for. We also have other loan situations which I would look to, with Adao and Mitchell and Naismith. We would like to keep them, but that might not be possible. But that is something that maybe alters our thinking.”
But the massive overhaul is not a daunting task, according to the man who took over from the sacked Ian Cathro after the current season was already underway.
“Everywhere I’ve been I’ve had to ship loads of players out and it’s important to understand that there’s a way I want my team to play. At this moment in time we don’t have everything I need to do that. We need to get to that point. We need to get the core of the team right. If we do that and then start adding things it will become much easier.
“I was really pleased with the recruitment in January but there will be a shuffle again because what Ian (Cathro) and I wanted to do are completely different things and I’d rather do an overhaul over two windows than four because I want to get to the point where we have a secure base to build on.
“There will be quite significant changes this summer. There has to be. I can’t do what I want to do with what I have got just now. Then we need to calm down and get a core that plays every week. That will be the starting point. Then we can add what I think we need to be successful in this league. I’m very clear on what we need.”
When asked how many players he thought he would need to bring in, Levein said: “It can change, [but] somewhere between seven and ten.”