Any Hearts interest in Charlie Adam could depend on whether Arnaud Djoum remains at the Gorgie club beyond the January transfer window.
The Cameroon international is out of contract in the summer and is therefore free to agree a pre-contract. In those circumstances, the capital side, who have thus far been unable to agree a new deal with the midfielder that would keep him at the club into the new season and beyond, may be willing to cash in, according to a Gorgie source.
But, with the Tynecastle club looking to make a big push back up the table, following the return of key players from long-term injury, that will depend on whether they have a ready replacement who they feel could help unlock opposition defences in the second half of the current campaign.
Stoke City’s Adam has been identified as capable of filling that void, Hearts manager Craig Levein aware of his abilities from their time together in the Scotland set-up.
The 33-year-old has also been struggling for first-team starts this term and has made no secret of the fact he would be interested in a move back north of the Border, if the right opportunity presented.
Finances suggest Adam’s former club Rangers would appear to be frontrunners, if his ex-Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard came calling, but the Dundonian, who wants the promise of regular game time, has stated money will not be the primary factor in any transfer decision. Adam left Rangers in 2009, after six years with the club, and has since played for Blackpool, Liverpool and Stoke City in the top tier of the English game.
This term, he has made only one start and four substitute appearances at Stoke, amounting to only 148 minutes of first-team action, and is keen to move to a club where he knows the manager rates him and where he could get back to playing every week.
Levein has always admired Adam’s passing and his vision and his ability to use these attributes to get the ball out to wide players, as well as loft a ball in over the top or up to strikers, and while there are several midfield options already on the books at Hearts, few are as adept at that as Adam in his prime.
The Hearts manager has also waxed lyrical in the past about how the midfielder can play the gap between midfield and the frontline, where he can feed people through, run with the ball or have a pop at goal.
Speaking recently, Adam made it clear the respect was mutual as he spoke about his former Scotland boss and how well the capital club started the season under his tutelage.
“I had a good relationship with Craig at Scotland and I like Craig as a manager and as a person,” said Adam. “He is straight, honest, says it how it is, like me, and sometimes he upsets people. But he is a good guy, he has done terrifically well.”
He added that despite all that, there had been no formal approach from Levein or anyone else at Hearts, who had been hoping to bide their time and see how Djoum’s future pans out.
Djoum, 29, joined the Edinburgh club in 2015 and went on to catch the eye of the Cameroon national boss and was a member of the team that won the 2017 African Cup of Nations. Injuries have curtailed him over the past year but having returned to the side in September he has been edging back to his best form.
Speaking publicly, he has said he would like to sign a new contract but privately it is understood he is still holding out for a preferred switch to French or English football.
With that in mind, Hearts are continuing to monitor the Adam situation and according to an insider may have to make a move sooner than anticipated due to the public speculation and the fact other interested parties have now been alerted to the Scot’s availability.