Loic Damour joins Hearts - two years after Craig Levein first tried to sign him

Loic Damour is thrilled to join Hearts – two years after Craig Levein first tried to sign him.

New Hearts midfielder Loic Damour. Picture: SNS

French midfielder Damour signed a four-year deal after negotiating his release from Cardiff and could make his debut in the Premiership clash with Ross County today.

Levein tried to land the 28-year-old when he made the switch to Cardiff from Bourg-en-Bresse Peronnas, but Damour opted to move to the Welsh club and played a key role in their promotion to the Premier League.

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But Damour admits the Hearts manager’s desire to sign him was a major influence on his decision to move to Scotland.

Damour said: “I’m very happy to be here and I can’t wait to start. At Cardiff last year it was not a very good season for me and I need to play football, so it was a good opportunity for me when the gaffer called me.

“Straight away when he called me I spoke straight away with Clevid [Dikamona] because I know him from France, and Callum Paterson at Cardiff told me good things about the team.

“To be honest, I spoke with the gaffer two years ago just before I came to Cardiff . Now I am here and I’m very happy to be here.

“It was a simple decision for me because Hearts is a good club in Scotland and when they called me, especially when the gaffer called me, I knew it was a good opportunity for me and my family. So straight away when he called I knew I wanted to come because I knew he really wanted me in the team and at this club. I really appreciated that and his confidence as well. So I’m ready to give my maximum for the team.”

Levein believes Damour will be a major player and is an ideal recruit with Peter Haring sidelined through injury.

Levein said: “I tried to sign him two years ago before he went to Cardiff. There is a lot of things I like about him, his energy in midfield, his composure on the ball, his willingness to do a number of the ugly sides of the game and still have that composure when he does get the ball.

“I’m really pleased, he’s another really important signing for us. We’ve done some good business this summer and this is another one that will help us significantly.

“Peter’s been a big loss, he was arguably one of our best players last season and when he’s not in the team I feel a little bit vulnerable because he does so many things well.

“I think Loic will give me a degree of comfort that a lot of those things will get done.”

Despite Damour’s arrival, Levein remains in talks with former Stoke and Aston Villa midfielder Glenn Whelan.

Levein added: “It’s still on the cards. I’ll have another conversation with him.”

Meanwhile, Levein insists there are no problems with the Tynecastle pitch after the stadium hosted the Edinburgh Festival’s opening concert.

He said: “The thing that gave me comfort through all of this was the experts were saying the stability of the pitch wouldn’t be affected and that for me was the key. It’ll play just as normal.”

County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell wants a repeat performance from the Staggies at Tynecastle as they look to continue their perfect start to the new season.

The Dingwall side stormed through their Betfred Cup section with four straight wins and then backed that up by beating Hamilton 3-0 in their Premiership opener last weekend. Now Kettlewell has told the County squad he expects to see the same levels again when they take on Hearts.

He told the County website: “It’s going to be difficult, I would be lying if I said otherwise. Hearts are an extremely strong side with great experience and will be right up for it after losing at Pittodrie last weekend.

“There is no point in us going out and hitting those levels last weekend if we can’t maintain it. We have some good experienced leaders in the dressing room and they will help to funnel that message down and as long as we stick to our game plan, and are comfortable in what we can do, we give ourselves a chance on Saturday.”