Hibernian have agreed a deal to bring Ryan Gauld back to Scotland and expect to have it signed and sealed in time to allow the midfielder to join the squad at their winter training camp in Dubai early next week.
The 23-year-old Sporting Lisbon player had been courting interest from a number of clubs, including Bristol City and Aberdeen, but Hibs are confident that they have won the battle to enlist the creative expertise of the former Dundee United youngster, who left Tannadice for Portugal almost five years ago, in a deal worth around £3 million.
Having struggled to cement a place in the Sporting first team, the winger has had loan spells at Vitoria de Setubal, as well as Aves and, more recently, Farense.
But Hibs manager Neil Lennon had been determined to lure Gauld back to Scotland as he seeks to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities carved out for last season’s top scorer Florian Kamberi, who has been somewhat goal shy in the first half of the season.
With the club sitting eighth in the Premiership, a successful recruitment drive in the January transfer window has been deemed crucial and it is understood that the arrival of Gauld would not derail plans to bring Scott Allan back for his third spell at Easter Road.
The Celtic player was an impressive performer for Hibs in the second half of last season but having returned to his parent club for the beginning of the current campaign, he has failed to command a first team role, leaving him open to a trip back along the M8.
An interested spectator as Hibs lost out to derby rivals Hearts and the end of 2018, Allan is now poised to bolster the attacking options and provide the link between midfield and attack that has been absent in many games this season.
The acquisition of both Allan and Gauld would engender optimism among the Easter Road support, who were rocked by the surprise departure of cult hero Efe Ambrose, who invoked a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave the club this month.
Having turned down an improved three-year contract to extend his time in Edinburgh, the 30-year-old centre-back, who joined the club from Celtic in early 2017, has been released, with Cardiff City leading the pack of clubs keen to secure his services. In a statement posted on the club website, Hibs said: “A popular figure with players, staff and supporters alike, the club made every effort to keep Efe but respect his decision and thank him for his contribution. He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at Hibernian.”