Baningime arrived at Riccarton on Thursday morning to train with Neilson’s first-team squad before signing a three-year contract. He could debut against Celtic on Saturday on the opening weekend of the cinch Premiership.
At 22, he is eager to revitalise his career and will bring dynamism, aggression and technical ability to Edinburgh. Neilson explained why Hearts waited patiently hoping to get a player of Baningime’s calibre.
“We’ve had loads of players put to us but they were players we didn’t think would really improve us as a team,” he said. “So we waited and waited and managed to get Beni from Everton He’s of great stock and we think he we add a lot to the squad.
“He’s got good experience. Although he’s only 22 he’s played six games in the English Premier League, 12 all in for Everton, so to be able to get a player like that is great for us. He’s at a good age, he’s got good energy, good work ethic and playing in that midfield position he’s a ball winner.
“He can also play further forward as well so I think he brings a lot of attributes that we need within our shape. Beni is one of the names put into us a few weeks ago.
“We looked at him but he still had a year left on his contract at Everton so there was some issues with that we had to work back and forward on.”
Neilson is already contemplating handing the Congo-born player his first experience of Scottish football against Celtic at Tynecastle.
“He’s trained today and been training with the Everton first-team until they went to Florida. He’s even played a few games for them as well so he’s fit and ready to go. It’s just a decision on whether we put him in or not.
“He’s at the stage of his career where he needs to go play regularly. He burst onto the scene when he was a bit younger and maybe he hasn’t played as much as he’d like.
“We see it as an opportunity to get in a good player but also a chance to develop him. He’s seeing it as a chance to get back playing regularly so I think it fits for everyone.”
Hearts did extensive research on Baningime, who first joined Everton aged nine, before submitting a formal offer to sign him on a permanent basis.
“I spoke to a number of people down at Everton and also the loan clubs he’s been to get a reference on him. They all spoke very highly of him,” said Neilson.
“It’s very difficult for players to get to the level he’s got to, and then to take the next step by playing regularly down there. So we’re giving him the opportunity to come play at a huge club as well.”