Minnesota United chief hails ‘quick, lively’ Sam Nicholson as MLS outfit step up chase for Hearts product

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

MINNESOTA UNITED sporting director Manny Lagos has lavished praise on Sam Nicholson as the MLS outfit step up their efforts to tempt the winger to the U.S..

The 22-year-old travelled to Minneapolis on Monday for a whistle-stop tour of the Loons’ training facilities and 50,000-capacity TCF Bank Stadium.

He attended Minnesota training on Tuesday morning, while he will also use the trip to explore the city and decide whether to pursue the life-changing switch to the States.

Nicholson is out of contract and has indicated his desire to leave Gorgie, with Hearts set to bank a £400,000 compensation fee providing he joins a suitor in Scotland or England. The Jambos will receive nothing if he accepts an offer from Minnesota.

“This [trip] is to let Sam come out and see the Twin Cities,” said Lagos, confirming Nicholson’s arrival to the Star Tribune.

“It is to get to know each other a little bit and see if there’s common ground.

“Sam has got some good experience playing in Scotland, which is a tough, hard-nosed league.

“He’s a fast, quick player. He plays in a position where speed’s important. And as a winger, he’s really lively and kind of brings that energy to the field.

“Technically, he’s very good with both feet, which is important for playing on either side of the field.”

MLS newcomers Minnesota are ninth in the Western Conference after winning just four of their first 13 fixtures and have made Nicholson a top target for when their summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson has made 127 appearances since emerging through the youth ranks in 2012, scoring 16 goals and also racking up eight caps for Scotland’s under-21 side.

Meanwhile, Hearts have announced a pre-season training camp in Ireland, echoing the summer preparations of Robbie Neilson in 2015.

The Jambos will make the trip to Dublin on July 3 and embark on a five-day training camp in the Irish capital, while they are in the process of finalising one friendly encounter against local opposition.

Hearts then travel across the border to Northern Ireland where they will face Linfield at Windsor Park on Saturday, July 8 before returning to Edinburgh the following day.

Neilson took his side to the Emerald Isle two years ago for a week-long camp, during which they defeated Bohemians and Shelbourne.

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