Hibs turn to El Alagui to add bite to frontline

The former Falkirk and Dundee United striker is currently a free agent. Picture: Jayne Wright.
The former Falkirk and Dundee United striker is currently a free agent. Picture: Jayne Wright.
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HIBERNIAN head coach Alan Stubbs has made former Falkirk forward Farid El Alagui his second signing and is expected to weigh up an offer for freed Cardiff City defender Luke Coulson in the next 48 hours.

El Alagui, who made his name scoring 28 goals during a remarkable season with Falkirk, has penned a two-year deal after being released by Brentford in the summer, with Hibs understood to have beaten Premiership duo St Johnstone and Dundee, as well as clubs south of the border, to his signature.

The 28-year-old, who is expected to make his Hibs debut against Dunfermline tonight, returned to Scottish football in January to spend the second half of last term on loan at Dundee United but failed to recapture the prolific form of his breakthrough campaign with Falkirk two seasons previously.

The French-born Moroccan will now face his former club, where he earned cult status amongst the support, in next term’s Championship after Hibs turned to him to solve the goal-scoring problems – just 31 in 38 league games – that contributed to May’s embarrassing relegation from the Premiership. Citing Stubbs as key to his arrival, El Alagui said: “I’m really happy to be at Hibs and I’m excited about the challenge ahead. We will be doing everything we can to make sure we get back into the Scottish Premiership.

“As soon as I came here the move felt right and I felt good about playing for Hibs.

“When I met Alan [Stubbs], I was impressed because he is young and enthusiastic and he wants to bring something new to the club. I think the Scottish Championship will be a very exciting league next season and I’m looking forward to playing for Hibernian. I had a few other offers to consider before I chose Hibernian. I thought this was the most exciting challenge and it was very clear in my head that I wanted to be here.”

On social media, he added: “Delighted to join Hibernian. Great club, great history, great fans. Let’s get back to the top where it belongs!!”

El Alagui joins former Hearts and Manchester United full-back David Gray in joining Stubbs’ revamped squad, with a handful of others expected to follow.

Off the pitch, Hibs have moved to bring in physiotherapist John Porteous, who has spent almost 23 years at Motherwell after joining the Steelmen under Tommy McLean in 1991.

A Motherwell statement read: “Everyone at Motherwell would like to thank John immensely for his unrivalled service and wish him continued success with his future career in the capital.”

Confirmation that former Everton coach Andy Holden and ex-St Mirren, Dundee United and Kilmarnock goalkeeper Alan Combe, who was with Hearts last season, are to join Stubbs’ backroom staff is also anticipated in the coming days.

On the field, Stubbs hopes El Alagui is an indication of the quality he hopes to add to his side ahead of the new season.

He said: “We’re delighted with the news Farid has decided to join the club. He will be a great addition to the club and his arrival has given everybody a lift. We’ve had to fight off competition from Scottish Premiership clubs and also competed with clubs from down south in order to bring Farid here. I’m thrilled that he has seen the potential and he bought into my vision for Hibernian and the direction where we want to go.

“We’ve mentioned before that we want to add quality players to the squad and Farid’s arrival is the type of signing we’re aiming to introduce this summer.”

Meanwhile, Coulson is set to be given the chance to win a move when Hibs travel to face Dunfermline tonight.

The 20-year-old featured for 45 minutes as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Berwick Rangers and Stubbs is expected to have another look at the full-back against the Pars before deciding whether to table a deal. Stubbs added: “We will keep monitoring him and Dunfermline will be another good test for us.”