Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson delighted to land USA midfielder Perry Kitchen

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Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists the Gorgie club are fortunate to recruit Perry Kitchen after the midfielder knocked back a lucrative MLS contract and saw a proposed move to Kaiserslautern collapse.

The USA internationalist has agreed a two-and-a-half year deal and is expected to be officially unveiled next week once all the paperwork is completed.

DC United were desperate to hold on to the 24-year-old but Neilson admits Kitchen’s desire to further his career in Europe and enhance his international hopes saw him turn down a money-spinning deal to remain Stateside.

(Pic: Simon Heseltine)
(Pic: Simon Heseltine)

Neilson, whose side will bid to reduce the gap on second place Aberdeen to six points when Partick Thistle visit this afternoon, said: “He got offered a huge contract to stay in the MLS.

“But he knocked it back because he wants to come to Europe to try and further his career over here.

“He also had a deal to go to Germany but that fell through and we were in the right place at the right time to manage to get him.

“I was a bit surprised he turned down the MLS offer because it was a very lucrative contract. But it just shows the hunger of the boy to come here.

“A lot of the MLS players want to come to Europe and prove themselves. He saw this as a pathway to do that.

“It’s not all about money from his point. Any player coming to Hearts is not going to make huge money – money that is going to sustain them for the rest of their career.

“It is important that they see this as a stepping stone. If they come here, they will be looked after, hopefully be better coached and then move on to somewhere else where they can earn bigger money.

“All players want to do that. I don’t think anyone says they want to spend the rest of their career in Scotland. Even Scottish players.

“I think it is important we are all honest about that. Every player wants to progress.

“If you ask our academy players, they all want to play in England. But they know the pathway to do that is to go through here and then make that step.”

Klinsmann

Neilson also hopes Hearts can help Kitchen, who has three caps, catch the eye of USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

He added: “I think Klinsmann wants his players to come and experience Europe and play in these competitions. That is his prerogative and it’s what Perry wants to do as well.

“He has proved himself in the MLS. Now he wants to do that in Europe.

“He’s a very good player, he has played at a high level, he has played international level, MLS.

“He’s mobile and athletic.

“He was at a training camp with the American national team in January so his fitness is good as well.”

Second

Midfielder Prince Buaben, meanwhile, insists Hearts have their sights set on reducing the nine point gap on Aberdeen.

He said: “It’s like a chasing game at the moment. Aberdeen are chasing Celtic and we’re chasing Aberdeen.

“It’s good for the league because it used to always be Celtic and Rangers but now we have Aberdeen trying to win the title.

“We will just try to keep winning games and see what it brings us at the end of the season.

“We’ve drawn too many games and the gaffer is always trying to improve us.

“But if you look at it we’ve come from the Championship and we’ve only lost four of our last 24 games, which is good.”

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