HEARTS have agreed to sign former St Mirren favourite Mihai Popescu from Dinamo Bucharest.
The Romanian giants claimed on Wednesday afternoon that the transfer had been officially completed, slightly jumping the gun according to Tynecastle sources.
However, Popescu, 27, will travel to Scotland this week to put pen to paper and, having already verbally committed to the capital club, that is seen as a formality.
Popescu will become boss Robbie Neilson’s seventh summer signing.
A statement from Dinamo read: “Dinamo Bucharest announces the definitive transfer of central defender Mihai Popescu to the Scottish club Heart of Midlothian FC. Our club sends Mihai Popescu a lot of success in his career.”
However, Popescu will face a frustrating wait before he can train with his new teammates or feature in any pre-season fixtures. With Romania on the Scottish Government’s list of high-risk countries for Covid-19, a fortnight in isolation is required upon his imminent arrival in Scotland.
Nevertheless, Popescu is understood to be relishing the opportunity to kick-start his career in Edinburgh after being informed that he had no future at Dinamo by new manager Cosmin Contra.
By contrast, Popescu shone during a six-month loan spell with St Mirren in 2018/19, becoming a cult hero with the supporters in Paisley.
Popescu’s impending signing is a welcome boost for Neilson after seeing his defensive options severely hit by injuries ahead of their return to competitive action next month.
Scotland international John Souttar will not play again until well into 2021 after suffering a third devastating achilles tendon set-back, while Christophe Berra’s progress has been hampered in pre-season by a calf strain.
That has left Hearts with just Craig Halkett and youngster Chris Hamilton as specialised centre-backs in recent friendlies, albeit Peter Haring and Michael Smith can both fill in there.