Hibs have finally confirmed Glenn Middleton has signed for the club on a season-long loan from Rangers after more than a week of speculation.
The winger was set to join Dutch second-tier club NAC Breda on loan but Middleton took matters into his own hands in order to stay in Scotland and join Hibs. After hearing of Paul Heckingbottom’s interest he phoned the manager himself to learn more about what the Easter Road club could offer in the way of first-team opportunities.
Steven Gerrard revealed last week that the player had been “super close” to heading to the Netherlands but had chosen to investigate Hibs’ interest further.
“It was his decision,” the Ibrox manager said. Middleton stressed he is desperate to “kick-start” his career and believes Hibs can provide him with the chance to do so.
The winger will provide cover for Martin Boyle, who sustained another knee injury earlier this season in the Betfred Cup tie against Elgin City. Boyle is likely to be out until next year.
Hibs had been linked with Middleton since earlier this month but it took until yesterday to conclude the deal. Hibs were beaten 6-1 by Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday and the news of Middleton’s arrival has brought some cheer to Easter Road.
“I am very hungry, I have a big desire to succeed in my career and hopefully this season I can kick-start things again,” said the 19-year-old, who made 28 appearances for Rangers last season and scored five goals.
In an interview with Hibs TV it was revealed Middleton had picked up the phone and called Heckingbottom, pictured, rather than vice versa.
“(It was) just the way the manager spoke to me on the phone, the things he was saying about the club,” said Middleton, when asked what had convinced him to join. “That phone call set in my mind that I would like to come and play for this team this year. When you get the offer to play for this club and the stature of the league, you cannot really turn that opportunity down,” he added.
Middleton revealed he also spoke to Scotland Under-21 international team-mates Ryan Porteous, Fraser Murray and Oli Shaw, who are now all also his clubmates for the duration of the campaign. “They said pretty good things about the club. I am just really excited to be here and get going,” he said.
Under-21s manager Scot Gemmill also approved of the move. “(I got a) couple of different people’s opinions on the club,” said Middleton. “It was clear this was the right option to take.”
Middleton started his career at the Norwich City academy, where he spent six years after his family relocated south of the Border. He signed for Rangers last year and very quickly broke into the first-team picture, making a particular impact in the Europa League, where he scored in a 4-3 win over Spartak Moscow. However, he has not been involved in the first team this season.
“I like to be very direct and make things happen, whether it be for myself and scoring goals or getting assists and making things happen for my other team-mates,” he said, when asked what he can bring to Hibs. “I want to show everyone what I am capable of doing whether it is (in terms of) numbers, with goals and assists, and also as part of the team,” he added. “I will take every game as it comes every week and see what happens. I can’t wait to get out there and show people what I am about.”
The player will wear the No 19 shirt and is eligible to make his debut in this weekend’s Betfred Cup tie against Morton. “I think our supporters will enjoy watching Glenn,” said Heckingbottom. “He’s direct, quick and will add different qualities to the squad. From our conversations he’s clearly desperate to play for this club.”