Hibs to increase player budget for new manager as Chris Mueller exit frees up 'significant' money

Chris Mueller’s return to the MLS will free up a “significant amount” of money for the new Hibs manager to use as he works to turnaround fortunes following a disappointing season.

The US winger, who has brought his brief stay in the capital to an end after just 15 appearances - seven of them starts - and one goal for the Leith side, was one of the highest paid players at the club and while his basic weekly wage fell a few thousand shy of the figure being touted, by the time accommodation cost and other add ons were tallied up it amounted to a sizeable sum. That will now go straight back into the squad budget ahead of next season’s rebuilding job.

In an underwhelming season, which saw last season’s third place finishers drop into the bottom six and miss out on Europe, the club sacked both Jack Ross and then Shaun Maloney when performances and results failed to stack up. But it is understood that the football budget has been bolstered ahead of the new season.

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The American signed a pre-contract last summer and saw out the remainder of the MLS season at Orlando City before joining Hibs for free in January but, with the side struggling to find its cutting edge in the final third, the 25-year-old struggled to live up to expectations and adapt to Scottish football and has now returned to his homeland, signing a deal with Chicago Fire.

“Chris has worked extremely hard in training since he arrived but has found it difficult to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Scottish Premiership, which has severely limited his game time,” said Hibs chief executive Ben Kensell.

“Ultimately, he wants to play football regularly and when the opportunity came about for him to play for his home-town side, it was something he didn’t want to turn down and we were happy to work with all parties to make this happen.

“For us, it was vital that this deal made complete sense for the club and alongside this, it has also freed up a significant amount financially that the incoming manager will be able to use to mould the squad in their way.”

It is understood that the club’s hierarchy want to give the new gaffer as much support as possible and that includes increasing the player budget as they look to revitalise the side and allow it to compete in the higher echelons next term, with another striker and goalkeeper high on the wishlist.

Chris Mueller's Hibs departure has freed up 'significant' money for a new manager to spend. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Contract extensions for the likes of Ryan Porteous and Chris Cadden are anticipated this summer but those decisions rest with the incoming manager.

It could also depend on how quickly they manage to move on unwanted players as they look to streamline the squad, adding extra quality rather than quantity.

While Josh Doig continues to attract interest from south of the border and offers could tempt the Leith side to sell the Player of the Year candidate this summer, other fringe players are likely to be told they are free to go.

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But, with no manager in place, all decisions are on hold. Which is why the club are keen to have the newcomer in situ by the end of the current campaign so that signing targets can be identified and brought in as early as possible.



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