Hibs win Graaf battle

HIBS' first summer signing, Dutch star Edwin de Graaf, spurned offers to move to Germany, England and the United States to agree a two-year deal at Easter Road, it was revealed today.

Alerted by the fact the 30-year-old's contract at NAC Breda was expiring this summer alerted a host of clubs both in Holland and abroad – including Hibs boss John Hughes.

And it was Hughes, who felt "an instant rapport" with the midfield ace, who won the tug-of-war to land a player with more than 200 appearances in the Eredivisie to go with five outings with the Dutch B team.

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Today, Hughes promised the Easter Road support their patience in waiting for transfer news will be well worth it, predicting the fans will take to de Graaf's all-action style.

He said: "We have really good contacts in Holland and we had a look at him a few times. I obviously spoke to him, told him about how we want to play football and I felt we took to each other, an instant rapport.

"But I found I couldn't tell him too much because he'd been doing some intensive research of his own on Hibs to see what he'd be coming to – he's quite a clever cookie.

"Edwin had a right few clubs after him, in Holland, Germany, England and America so it was nice to get someone of his calibre as the first one in this summer."

At 6ft 1in and a career which has included spells with RBC Roosendaal, Feyenoord, Den Haag and Breda – where he was captain – De Graaf will bring some of the physical presence and experience which Hughes has repeatedly stated he needs within his young squad.

The Hibs manager said: "Edwin certainly has leadership qualities, he knows how the game should be played and, trust me, the fans will enjoy him. He can play off the front, right wing, right or left midfield, as the sitting midfielder but he can also go and score a goal.

"He's always played at a high level since starting as a young boy and he has a good physical presence. He'll bring all that experience of the Eredivisie and of playing in the UEFA Cup over the past couple of seasons.

"Edwin is a powerful box-to-box player who'll be a great asset.

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De Graaf, who will report along with the rest of Hughes' squad for pre-season training on 1 July before returning to his homeland as Hibs prepare for the new season with a ten-day trip to Holland encompassing four games, said: "

It was not a hard decision.When I spoke to the manager and the chairman (Rod Petrie] I immediately had a good feeling, I knew right away I wanted to play for Hibs."