Sylvester Jasper: Hibs' Fulham loanee opens up on late move, Shaun Maloney and Liverpool-linked Fabio Carvalho

It was a late, late move that Hibs just managed to squeeze through before the January transfer window slammed shut.

Requiring a player capable of helping fill the void left by Martin Boyle’s transfer to Saudi Arabian side Al-Faisaly, the Easter Road side pursued Fulham forward Sylvester Jasper, eventually securing his services on a loan until the end of the season with an option-to-buy clause included in the deal.

“The interest came quite late, the last few days in the transfer window,” the 20-year-old said.

“I spoke with the gaffer and had a really positive conversation, he told me the way the club is, the way they want to play, the way I would fit into the system.

Sylvester Jasper is eager to build on his promising first appearances in green and white

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“I don’t want to say he convinced me, but it definitely helped me with my decision.”

The Bulgarian Under-21 cap spent the first part of the season on loan at Colchester, building a good rapport with the fans and scoring three goals in 24 appearances.

Expressing his talents at Hibs

Fulham chiefs were keen for Jasper to get further first-team experience and send him out on another temporary stint.

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Jasper in full flight against Arbroath's Chris Hamilton

“I was intending on going out on loan again, so Hibs was a really good location for me to come to so I can express my talents. There is an option to buy in the loan but I don’t know the ins and out of that,” he continued.

“I’m just here to play football until the end of the season and whatever happens after that will happen."

Jasper impressed during an 80-minute spell against Rangers at Ibrox and again as a starter against Arbroath in the Scottish Cup, even if the latter was a bit of a culture shock.

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“Arbroath was a crazy game, a crazy place to go to, just different, but that comes with football; you’re going to get these cup ties where it’s not at the same type of level, you need to play in the wind and rain on a rubbish pitch,” he laughed.

Fabio Carvalho celebrates a goal for Fulham against Barnsley

“But I’m enjoying it, the level is good. I wouldn’t say Scottish football has surprised me, but I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a good level and I am enjoying it here.

"[The Scottish Premiership] is a respected league, even down in England. I talk to people and they’re not saying it’s a rubbish league, they’re saying it’s good quality and you see that in the teams playing in Europe and how they represent the league.”

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Learning from Maloney

The chance to work closely with former Belgium No2 Shaun Maloney has been a positive for Jasper, too.

“I stay with the gaffer after training and I have talks with him almost daily about how I can improve, and I ask him about these players he worked with at Belgium: what he’s learned from them that he can teach me.

“These are things that I can bring into my game and hopefully help me become a better player.”

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Jasper won't turn 21 until September and is aware that as a youngster, he has plenty of learning still to do and is eager to keep on growing his football knowledge.

“The coach you’re playing under is really important as a player. You need to know if you’re going to fit into his system and how you’re going to play for the team, and also what you can learn from them because, at the end of the day, I’ve only just turned 20 and I’m a young player.

“I’ve got a lot of learning to do. So, the way that that coach can affect my learning is very big, because I’ve still got a long way to go.

“It’s very important he’s learned from these players and been in these places that he can teach me.”

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International football goals

Jasper has two caps at under-21 level for Bulgaria, qualifying through his mother, and while he is keen to add more international experience he insists he is fully focused on producing the goods at club level.

“I’m not really thinking about all of that. That’s for the future,” he explained.

"Right now, if everything goes well in club football then everything else will follow, in terms of contracts and international football.

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“I just need to focus on getting the club form right and then hopefully I can continue playing internationally, and then play first team internationals.”

The London-born player turned out for England at under-15 level before being called into the Bulgarian squad for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against the Netherlands and Moldova in November last year, making his debut against the Dutch.

“My mum is Bulgarian so it would be big if I could play for the Bulgaria full team,” he continued.

“Right now, I’m with the 21s and I’ll give my all for them. I feel like I’ve represented myself well when I’ve gone there and played for them.

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“If the call comes, it comes and I’ll be ready – but I can play for three countries: for England; my dad is Nigerian and as I said my mum is Bulgarian.

“It would be a big decision to make. I would need to see how my mum and my dad feel, and how I personally feel as well."

Friendship with Fabio

Jasper might have sealed a deadline day switch to Hibs but one player who saw a move to Liverpool fall through was friend and Fulham team-mate Fabio Carvalho, who remained at Craven Cottage despite strong interest from Jurgen Klopp's side. The pair are close and both are targeting the top of the game.

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"We grew up together at Fulham and came through the ranks together,” Jasper revealed.

“We want the same from football, we want to play at the top of the game, whether that’s the top five leagues or wherever. We want to play at the pinnacle of football.

“He almost had the opportunity to do that. Unfortunately, it didn’t go through but I’m sure we’ll both get there at the end of the day.”

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