HEARTS will today announce that they have finally got their man, with full-back Juwon Oshaniwa completing his medical yesterday and signing a three-year deal.
The Tynecastle club have had to be patient as the dealings became tangled up in bureaucracy but Hearts manager Robbie Neilson believes the wait for the highly-regarded 24-year-old Nigerian international will be vindicated when he eventually plays his way into the team.
Too soon to be thrown into the mix for tomorrow’s Premiership opener against St Johnstone, the defender, who was also on Celtic’s watchlist, will be assessed in training and could make the squad for next weekend’s trip to Dundee.
“It has been difficult because we had hoped to get him for pre-season so we could build through there with him but hopefully it will be worth the wait,” said Neilson, who added that while Oshaniwa’s delayed arrival is not ideal, it should not be too troubling as he has been in training in preparation for the move. The Hearts head coach also pointed to the performances of two of last season’s late arrivals and the part they played in helping the club to the Championship title.
“We did it last season with [Adam] Eckersley and [Miguel] Pallardo. They were guys who came in after we had started and it’s just part of football and you just have to deal with it.
“Everyone wants to get their full squad in for the first day of pre-season but it never happens like that.
“We are expecting him to do really well for us and it’s usually worth the wait when guys like this come in.”
Celtic had been linked with the left-back at the start of the year and the Parkhead club were credited with an ongoing interest but the Nigerian, who represented his country at the 2014 World Cup, was a free agent after leaving Israeli club
FC Ashdod at the end of the season.
After flying into Edinburgh yesterday, he said he was happy to finally be joining up with the club, claiming he has a “positive instinct” about the move.
Given the competition and the delays, Neilson said he is relieved to finally get the deal concluded.
“It has been the longest transfer saga ever. He needs to come in and he needs to train and get to know the players, with a view of next weekend or possibly the midweek game against Motherwell,” said the Hearts manager.
“As soon as his name came up we looked at it and he became our number one target for that area and it’s great for us.
“We are very friendly with his agent, who already has a couple of players here, and his agent wanted to bring him here and hopefully use it as a springboard to move him on. We wanted him and the boy was keen to come here.
“Everyone who comes in here, whether from abroad or from Scotland wants to come here and do well and play at a higher level and move on to bigger things and that’s part and parcel of football at any club outwith maybe the top four in England. Everyone here wants to work hard and do well and if they
do that then it’s a win-win for everybody.”