New signing Connor Randall said he jumped at the chance to swap a season as a bit-part player in the English Premier League for an opportunity to impress at Hearts.
The Liverpool player, who has made four first-team appearances for the Anfield club, has completed a one-year loan deal and is available for this afternoon’s crucial League Cup group game against Dunfermline. Only victory would guarantee Hearts a place in the knockout stages,but the 21-year-old offers manager Ian Cathro options in midfield and defence.
“When I heard Hearts were interested, I jumped at it,” Randall said. “I couldn’t turn it down. It’s a great club and I can’t wait to get going. I’m eager to get games under my belt. I’m a versatile player, I play with a lot of commitment and energy and I like to get up and down the pitch.”
But while the youngster has headed north in a bid to further his career, Arnaud Djoum says he would look at offers that would see him head in the opposite direction – but only if it suited Hearts.
The Cameroon international, who has made more than 60 appearances for the Tynecastle side since joining in 2015, had spoken out while on Confederations Cup duty with his country and reportedly expressed a desire to leave the club.
Back with his Gorgie team-mates after a short break, he said that playing against some big name stars over the summer had whetted his appetite for an even bigger challenge and he did not deny that he is seeking to advance his club career with a move to one of Europe’s bigger leagues, but insisted there was nothing wrong with that ambition.
“I still have two years on my contract at Hearts and if a club comes for me and Hearts are happy, we can make a solution but if not I would be happy to stay here as well because Hearts gave me the chance to show myself and be a national team player.
“I need to give respect to them so we’ll see.
“As well as winning the Africa Cup of Nations last season, recent games against Germany, Australia and Chile were valuable experiences.
“Against Germany I was up against [Julian] Draxler, Emre Can, those kind of players. Against Chile I played against Vidal and Alexis Sanchez, so it was a great experience. You see their level, how quickly they play, how smart they are. You learn a lot from these types of games.
“For sure it gives me a boost to do the best I can do to get to the highest level. I know I need to work hard because it’s not easy and we’ll see what happens in the future but I will give everything to train hard and play well to get to this level.”
Insisting he would remained focused at Hearts – even if that means seeing out the remainder of his contract, the 28-year-old was adamant that his ambition did not reflect badly on his current employers.
“I think all players have to have ambition. Every player has that dream. You watch [big games] on TV and you want to be there. You want to play at as high a level as possible, but you can’t push things. Things need to happen naturally and, like I say, if a club comes then I will speak with the club if that is okay with Hearts. But if not then I will be happy to stay.”