BY ALA TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
FLORIAN KAMBERI is determined to pick up where he left off after joining Hibs on a three-year deal from Grasshopper Zurich.
The 23-year-old was a revelation after arriving at Easter Road on loan in January, bagging nine goals in 14 appearances, including a devastating hat-trick against Hamilton.
The Switzerland under-21 internationalist also proved he had an eye for the big occasion, finding the net against Hearts, Aberdeen and Rangers.
Kamberi, along with strike-partner Jamie Maclaren, became a huge fans’ favourite in the second half of the season as Hibs secured Europa League qualification, and boss Neil Lennon was known to be desperate to snap him up on a permanent deal.
With his future now clear, Kamberi is determined to hit the ground running once more.
“I am very happy to be coming back to Hibs,” Kamberi said. “I want to continue where I left off and help the club to continue to improve. We are in Europe and have a good squad, so it will be a good season I’m sure.”
Hibs were able to snap up Kamberi for a bargain fee in the region of £100,000 courtesy of a purchase option negotiated when the rangy front-man initially joined on loan, despite numerous other suitors – including Jack Ross’s Sunderland – being quoted seven figures.
That clause was due to formally expire at the end of the day on Thursday, however chief executive Leeann Dempster and head of recruitment Graeme Mathie managed to get the deal done ahead of the deadline.
They jetted out to Zurich to finalise the switch earlier this week before returning to Scotland, via Cologne, prompting Dempster to joke on Twitter: “For those of you who seem to have been tracking our movements since lunch yesterday in YoSushi Edinburgh, we are leaving Cologne now. Heading home. Successful trip.”
Despite prying eyes, the Easter Road supremo was thrilled to begin Hibs’ summer of transfer business by attaining a ‘priority’ target.
Dempster added: “Everyone at the club is eager for the on-field successes of the past three seasons to continue and signing Florian is a part of the jigsaw for the season ahead.
“Florian was a priority target for us, so we’re delighted to get it done. He was a great success here last season, so I am really thrilled that we were able to bring him back on a permanent deal.”
Maclaren, who formed such a deadly dup with Kamberi, was among the first to offer his congratulations, as he took time out of Australia’s preparations for their World Cup opener against France tomorrow to tweet: ‘Eyyyyyyy…. YES big man!!’
Maclaren scored eight goals in 15 during his own loan spell from Darmstadt last term and Hibs retain hopes of bringing him back to Scotland.
However, much could depend on his displays in Russia and the price the Bundesliga 2. outfit place on his head.